Category Archives: Stress Management

Goals For May 2015, Because Planning Downtime Is a Must

may ppost

If I had to sum up the past several weeks of life, the one word that best describes it would be whew. That’s less of a word and more of a sound, but since I’ve been moving at light speed since mid-March, whew it is.

That’s also a great way to describe how I feel about the fact that it’s already May! Anyway, I have a lot of things to get straight this month, but I’m trying to be careful about overwhelming myself. Joining in on the monthly goals linkup hosted by Drea from The Drea Daily was high on my priority list, so it’s time to get my goals for May out in the open already.

Travel to DC

For the past couple of years, my best blogger friend and writing partner Andrea at Be-Quoted and I have discussed meeting up ever since we met online via Britni Danielle’s The Write Pitch course. After endless emails, texts, tweets, online chats and phone conversations, it’s high time we met in person. The goal is to travel to DC where we can finally connect in person. This is already in the works, so I feel confident it will come to fruition.

Get Some Friggin’ Rest

To put things in perspective, I haven’t spent a full two weeks in a row at home since early March. Since then, I have literally been all over the globe from Atlanta to Mexico to Tokyo. With freelancing though, I no longer have the luxury of paid time off, so before, during and after some of that globe-trotting, I was working, and I still haven’t given myself time to recover because…more work. Clearly, my work-life balance is all out of whack and I’ve just been doing way too much. Before May 31 arrives, I need to designate at least a couple of days to doing absolute nothingness. Wake up. Breathe. Eat. Dassit.
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Why Morning Rituals Are Essential

preparation of tea ceremony

Full disclosure: Most of my mornings suck. In a perfect world, I’d start my day off like a Folger’s commercial , bundled up in a soft robe sipping a freshly brewed cup of coffee and randomly smiling to myself while the steam floats across my face, instantly perking me up and giving me a mini-facial in the process. I don’t believe it’s magic in that cup (coffee drinkers may disagree), but instead, partaking in that morning routine helps them ease into the day instead of blundering towards it like a train wreck.

A speeding locomotive heading towards disaster precisely describes the way I begin most of my days, except I’m not as swift. Generally, I roll over and scroll through my phone, check emails, texts and (insert embarrassed face here), Twitter. Then I lay around for a few more minutes and ruminate over what I have to do, why I have to do it and how I’m gonna do it. By the time I get out of bed, my mind is sufficiently cluttered, and the worst part? I’m usually not motivated. At all.

At one point in time, I practiced a simple yet effective morning ritual where I took a few minutes to clear my mind, think of a reason I was happy to be alive (because let’s face it – some days this is extremely difficult) and eat breakfast before I headed out for work. Since I’ve been working from home, it’s been a struggle to maintain a lot of the structure I had when my schedule was less flexible, hence the reasons my mornings aren’t as stable as they once were.

Bottom line is I know I need to re-establish a morning ritual ASAP because there are obvious benefits:

MORNING RITUALS HELP YOU TO CENTER YOURSELF:

There’s nothing like an established morning routine to help you focus on what’s important and mute all the background mental chatter.

THEY REDUCE ANXIETY:

Whenever I wake up anxious, I feel like crawling back into bed and resigning myself to a life of abandoned accomplishments and responsibilities. I hate not being able to silence the thoughts that instantly bombard my mind like what type of work day I’m going to have, fitting in personal errands and/or enjoyable tasks before work, paying bills, eating and… dammit it’s almost time for work. Basically my blood pressure rises before I do! But employing some sort of morning ritual helps me to slow down and minimize stress before I face the day.

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Bypass the Burn: 7 Ways to Avoid Burnout

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Ever find yourself barely limping along with what feels like an infinite to-do list stretched out in front of you? Sometimes the end appears like a mirage in the desert, wavering in the distance. You’re approaching something alright, but unfortunately it’s not the finish line. It’s burnout, which is oftentimes unrecognizable by those whom it afflicts until it arrives in the form of depression, loss of motivation, insomnia, alcohol or substance abuse and a host of additional health-related consequences. If you feel like you’re literally teetering on the brink of sanity, a bout with burnout may be in your near future.

Here are 7 ways to avoid burnout:

Morning rituals: Instead of doing the equivalent of jump-starting your brain by rolling over and checking your email or Twitter feed, consider easing into your day with a morning ritual like meditation or sitting at the table with a cup of coffee, or partake in one of these activities that make mornings less sucky.

Take a break: This might sound obvious, but according to a recent Forbes article that states only 25 percent of Americans take their paid vacation, routinely taking breaks is apparently something a large portion of the population struggles to implement into their lives. In a society that’s all #TeamNoSleep #Grindin’ and other ridiculous hashtag lifestyles that promote excessive work over one’s well-being, it’s easy to fall into that trap of constant work. It’s OK to be motivated to reach a goal, but allowing your mind and body to take a break is less of a hindrance to success than having that body and mind break down in the process. Whether you seek respite from the daily grind by taking a weeklong Caribbean cruise or a brisk 15-minute walk around the block, regularly scheduled breaks are essential to avoiding burnout.

Establish and enforce boundaries: Typically, people who are prone to burnout have an issue with setting limits. Before they realize it they’ve committed themselves to 30 hours of work in one day, which obviously spells disaster. To this I say, exploit the power of saying no. Say no to squeezing in that extra assignment, helping a friend on your only off day or just stretching yourself too thin in general. Prioritize by using a list of wants versus needs and talk it over with someone you trust to make sure you stay on track.

 

Read this rest of this article over at ClutchMagOnline.

Image: Dskley/Flickr

A Quote To Live By

 

imperfect blogging day 11Day 11 of the Imperfect Blogging Challenge highlights the importance of quotes. My favorite is:

“You cannot conquer what you don’t confront; you cannot confront what you don’t identify.”

This quote infiltrates my thoughts and actions each and every day. For me, it represents a simple, three-part equation that leads to personal growth. To fully explain what it means to me, allow me to break it down into two parts.

“You cannot conquer what you don’t confront.”

I think about this when I find myself constantly complaining about the same issue or when someone vents to me about something that’s been nagging them forever. Talking through it, around it, and about it is like covering a bullet wound with a band-aid. Much like the bullet, the problem won’t vacate the premises until its located and removed with surgical precision. If not, it is guaranteed to do potentially irreparable damage to whatever surrounds it, be it friends, family, jobs or health. Focusing on the first half of the quote drives home the importance of nipping a problem in the bud before it snowballs out of control.  I’ve been duking it out with some pretty durable self-doubt lately and simply writing about this quote is shedding a little light on how I’ve been breathing life into my ongoing dilemma.

“You cannot confront what you don’t identify.”

How can you resolve an issue if you don’t know what it is? Oftentimes, I annoy myself to no end with over-analyzing, but in the case of identifying the source of an issue, this trait serves me well. It encourages me to dig beneath the surface for more clues. Sometimes this comes in the form of writing down my problem then reading back what I wrote. And as weird as this may sound, lately I’ve begun keeping video diaries. They’re definitely for my eyes only and the probability of them winding up as a YouTube soliloquy is absolutely zero. So while I may cringe at how the camera magnifies that huge zit or how badly my hair needs a trim, watching these videos of myself also increases my self-awareness and sometimes what I thought was a monumental, irreversible issue really isn’t. Continue reading

The Benefits of Having an Alter Ego

Sad woman with Superhero's Shadow on wall

Quite often the sheer act of existing feels downright overwhelming. Sometimes I wake up and before my eyes adjust to the morning light, a never-ending to-do list sidles into my mind and sprints off towards a mirage of a finish line. If you ask me, that’s just too much pressure before breakfast. At that point, I want to do nothing more than drift back into a peaceful sleep where deadlines, bills, emotions or any other concern that’s popular amongst the living mean about as much to me as a crack in a sidewalk.

But life beckons, and I eventually roll out of bed, sometimes sliding down the side of it, other times sitting up with an attitude and a curse word forming on my lips. It is then that I realize how badly I need a stunt double. Since Texas is a day’s drive from Hollywood and my house isn’t a movie set, I’ve decided to settle for the next best thing: an alter ego.

Nicki Minaj has Roman Zolanski. Garth Brooks had Chris Gaines. Eminem has the maniacal Slim Shady. And Lady Gaga has Jo Calderone. Now, I’m not sure what in the hell she needs with an alter ego because she seems to be quite the handful all by herself/selves, but that only confirms that having a little spare personality buddy can’t hurt.  And finally, if Beyoncé has an alter ego on her payroll, then goshdarnit, so can I. I’m far from a member of the Beyhive, but there’s no doubting the benefits that the Sasha Fierce transformation hath wrought upon her life.
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7 Ways Working a 9-5 is Like Being On a Reality Show

This is the one time I wanna be like Kim---no longer a cast member.

This is the one time I wanna be like Kim (pictured in gold)—no longer a cast member.

So today, I’m pissed and totally over the work drama, so let’s skip the fancy intro and get right to it. Here’s a list of seven ways jobs make their employees feel like they’re on the set of a sleazy reality show, only the lighting isn’t flattering and workers aren’t getting the hit singles, paid club appearances, Christian Louboutins and fresh sew-in weaves in exchange for their troubles.

1. Ain’t nobody f*ckin’ with my clique, clique, clique…: Ahhhh, cliques. The delightful dollop of people who consist of a lumpy, co-dependent, shit-talking mass of conjoined humans. They tend to share a brain, so it’s no wonder they don’t take too kindly to outsiders. They routinely convene about when and what to think, and the unfortunate soul who manages to permeate their wall of nasty judgments and constant gossip regrets it immediately and hopefully has the wherewithal to retreat just as quickly, lest they wish to give up their souls to the devil in exchange for the coveted honor of “fitting in.”

2. Bullies: Quite frankly, I don’t buy into the notion that adults can’t be bullied. Just like they appear on each cycle of Tyra Banks’ “America’s Next Top Model,” a narcissistic, sociopathic bully seems to be a workplace staple. I’ve dealt with my fair share of them, from an alcoholic, racist judge who thought it was cute to unplug my automatic stapler each time she passed my desk, to other co-workers who took more pride in delivering stare-downs and partaking in feverish whispering sessions than they did in actually working. Just like aggressive playground tyrants and reality show jerks, most of the in-office offenders don’t stop unless their targets knock them flat on their asses, whether in the form of an official complaint or a nice-nasty tongue-lashing. (Full disclosure: Both methods have worked for me.  There are other methods, but…nevermind.) Continue reading

Why it’s Bad to Hold It

After hanging out last night, I woke up feeling a little down in the dumps. Had one margarita too many and revealed something I should’ve kept to myself.  So all day, I did what I often do when something plagues me–I wallowed. I slept off and on through a Rockefeller documentary, ate a bunch of junk food and scrolled my Twitter timeline. Just as the sun set, I left the house to drive around the lake in an effort to clear my mind.

Back at home, I still hadn’t showered, an act that serves as a personal signal that I’m ready to shake my slump. I sat down at the piano and began practicing. Suddenly, I had an epiphany. I wanted to feel better. However, I didn’t want to do what it took to get there. But why not?

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Calming Your Inner Tornado

Keep this away from the homefront.

Keep this away from the home front.

For me, a day at the office ends in quite the typical manner. I log off my computer, gather my things and say my goodbyes. All official duties stop once I hit that stretch of pavement between the building and my car. Or at least that’s my intention. Sometimes, I don’t realize I’ve subconsciously lugged home after-hours assignments until I’m in my living room, meticulously rehashing the day’s challenges to my husband. One day, in the middle of a particularly feverish rant, I stopped waving my arms around long enough to actually notice him. Even though I probably looked like I was about to take flight, his facial expression still puzzled me.

“What?” I asked him, clueless.

“Sometimes when you come home, you’re like a tornado,” he huffed, now clearly annoyed by my theatrics. “You just unleash all this stress and drama and it brings me down.”

Gulp.

For a split second, I almost took a defensive stance. I came thisclose to telling him how he was an insensitive jerk and to just shut up and support me and UGH!!! Instead, his blunt declaration stopped me dead in my tracks, forcing me to consider his words.

Realizing the accuracy of his assessment, I instantly felt draped in a shroud of shame. I had allowed my experiences on the job to infiltrate our personal space in a negative way.  I’d come to rely on him to allow me to vent and express my frustrations with no filter.  Suddenly, I worried that without an open-ear policy, my sanity would become a distant memory. Then, I recognized that in this moment, he chose to stop enabling me. I had to find a way to manage my frustrations without sacrificing a healthy home.  As a result, I came up with a list of remedies to stormproof the home atmosphere from the withering elements of life at the office:
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