Stress Management Tools

5 Tips on How to Focus When Working from Home

work from home, home based business, distraction, can't focus, How to be more productiveWorking from home is definitely growing in popularity by leaps and bounds.  Epic numbers of people are starting businesses where they can work at home. It’s an opportunity to ignite your passion and create a dream business, whether it’s full time or after a regular work day. However, working from a home office comes with its share of stresses and can pose some challenges in the concentration department. How to focus when working from home can be a challenge.

Attention span…what?

A common trait of an entrepreneur is an amazing level of creativity. The downside is you can easily get detoured from work. Distractions pop up like Outlook dinging, phones ringing and of course, Facebook. Concentrating on one project can be blown when you remember something else that needs your attention. Insert your mind producing your latest fantastic ideas about another project.  And dare I mention that doing dishes and laundry seem like a much better idea than the project that keeps repeating on your to do list? The possibilities are endless to become overly sidetracked.

So how can you stay focused when working at home? Here are five tips to help you prevent getting distracted at your home office:

Designate home office space-and stick to it.

Create a space specifically designated for your work. It’s best to have a space where you can shut the door. Your desk area needs to be functional where you can grab what you need in a snap. Use calendars, dry erase and bulletin boards to keep you on task. Try using sticky notes of all sizes to guide you toward your goals and keep clear what your plan is for the day.

Be careful that you don’t work in an easy chair. An extra comfortable chair might be nice for a change of pace but there are some downsides.  There are greater distractions like the television or family members wanting your attention. Also, your posture becomes compromised with your computer or smartpad in your lap. You will begin to notice more tension in your neck and low back when working from your recliner. Sitting at a desk keeps you ergonomically fit

Keep a work schedule.

Set a designated time to work, just as if you were going to the office. Structure your day to include meals and breaks. Have ways to remind yourself to include self-care in your day. Stretch, drink plenty of water and refuel your body with nourishing healthy foods. The upside to working for yourself is that you can build in times to refuel your body, mind and spirit.
There may be times when you have to give a project and extra push to meet a deadline. Make sure you don’t get caught up in working too many hours. Sometimes it’s hard to shut off the computer for down time. Do practice keeping your time sacred for your best health.

Set personal life boundaries.

Set clear communications and boundaries with family, friends or roommates when you have a home office. Be clear about saying no to ongoing extra responsibilities. Teach your loved ones that time spent working at home does not equate to doing extra chores around the house. Plan your time and clearly set your limits with others.

Keep healthy foods and water on hand.

When you have a desk at home there is less of a temptation to hit a fast food drive-through. Prepare and plan your meals as well as keeping healthy snacks on hand. Drink plenty of water and keep hydrated. You’ll be surprised how this tip will keep you energized during your day.

Set times to connect with people.

Set specific times during the day that you’ll answer emails, respond to calls, and engage in social media. Set a timer to hop on and off the internet. Close social media tabs when working on your computer. This will reduce the temptation of checking the latest feed.

You can overcome the challenge of distraction when working from home. Create a system that best fits your style and personality and reduce stress when working from home.

Achieving Goals: Giving Up Is Not an Option

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.  ~Henry Ford

Most people set out to achieve a number of goals at the beginning of 2012.  It’s not uncommon to give up on New Year’s resolutions that you were so passionate about last January first. Loss of motivation when you are working toward a goal can be so easy when you get frustrated. It seems so much easier just to make an excuse and walk away.

There are reasons you give up on a goal:

  • You hit a point that you haven’t done something before
  • You just give up hope
  • You have lost sight of the reasons you wanted to change in the first place
  • You decide the goal isn’t what you want anymore

Giving up is not an option.

I had the honor of working with a patient I’ll call Buddy. Buddy had a serious head injury after accidentally falling into a moving grain bin. He survived but was in a coma for some time. He responded to very little around him, just mostly to pain. He was released from the hospital and sent to a nursing home where I worked as an occupational therapist. Buddy was in his thirties and had a very supportive wife. “I just want him to be happy and be able to come home,” she said. Sarah sat by his side every day, praying he would come out of his coma. He slowly began to respond to other sounds and smells as we worked with him in therapy.
One morning Buddy opened his eyes and his intense recovery started. He struggled to swallow and feed himself again. He worked to be able to get stronger just to sit on the edge of the bed. He smiled as he was able to comb his hair and start to put on a shirt again. He began to speak his first words.

These tasks were no small feat and are things we take for granted every day.

Watching Buddy meet his goals inspired me to look at my own dreams. Suddenly my excuses were nothing but weak. He motivated me to look inside my heart and see I had strength to move forward, too.

After three months, Buddy was ready to move to a rehabilitation center where he could progress faster. He made a goal that he would walk back into the nursing home to visit us again. I thought a lot about Buddy and kept in contact with his wife, Sarah. The nursing home staff was all rooting for him to return home.

One day, the unit charge nurse said there was someone here to see me. I went to the front lobby and walked out onto the porch. There was Buddy in the parking lot, walking with a cane to see us. We cheered and wept tears of joy that day. Buddy smiled and thanks us for helping him to get better. We thanked him for teaching us not to give up on something we wanted so much in our lives.

“Never, never, never, never give up.”-Winston Churchill

Buddy was an inspirational teacher in my life. He taught me that even if life looked impossible and I wanted to throw in the towel that it just wasn’t a choice. Failure is not a reason to stop working and give up hope.  Healing hurt and loss comes from taking action to get to a better place in life.

Who’s the Buddy in your life? There is most likely one or more people in your life that keep you inspired. Write down all the reasons that you can to hold onto them when you want to give up. Hold onto them and read them at the very moment you want to walk away from your dreams. Keep strong in your convictions and know giving up is not an option.

Stress and Health: How Chronic Stress Affects Your Future Health

“Stress is the trash of modern life – we all generate it but if you don’t dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life”–Danzae Pace

Each day you experience some level of stress. Worrying can be a daily habit. Your mind is at work constantly, spinning about problems that have happened and what is yet to come. In fact, anxiety never seems like it lets up. Neck and back tension, the knot that stays in your stomach and jittery agitation just lives under the surface of your skin. You begin to think that worrying is a normal everyday part of life. The truth is that the effects of chronic stress have begun.

When you worry, chemicals are released in your body that send you into a flight or fight alert. It’s like turning on a switch to tell your body that something is wrong or that you are in danger. What happens if the switch to stress stays on? Once you think that anxiety and worry are part of your life, you forget that relaxation, or “rest and digest” mode is even and option.

When you worry, you borrow against your future health and well being.

A recent study from Penn State University has linked stress to future health risks. The study reports it’s not the stressors, or things that make you worry that cause health issues. It’s your response to stress that determines if you will suffer future health effects.

According to David Almeda, professor of human development and family studies, how you react to what happens today can foretell chronic health issues and ten year from now, aside from your current health and stress yet to come.

“Stress is not what happens to us. It’s our response to what happens. And the response is something we can choose” ~Maureen Killoran

When you are in a heightened state of stress, it’s truly hard to see all options in how to handle the problem. It’s far more natural in an anxious state to become victim to a flight or fight response. You forget that you have a choice in how you respond to stress.

The bottom line is learning how to manage stress more effectively.

It can seem totally overwhelming to make one more change in your life. You carefully have all the pieces in place for your life to work. One piece out of place and you will lose control…or at least that’s what you might believe.

 There are a few steps to get started in changing how you respond to stress.

1.    Pick three times a day that you take time to relax. Start with 15 minutes at a time. Be very conscious that the time is for you to recharge. Pick something that will clear you mind, such as a short walk, writing in a journal, deep breathing, or reading. Short relaxation techniques will work, too. This will help you remember what it is like to stop the stress response in your body.

2.    Breathe. The stress response causes us to breathe quick and shallow. Try deep belly breathing to reduce tension and get more oxygen in your body. Place your hand on your belly and feel it expand with the rise and fall of each breath. Breath in relief and exhale stress.

3.    List five things you are grateful for when caught up in the stress response. When you are stressed, you are living in the past and/or the future. Gratitude lists put us back into the present moment. The beauty is that the present moment is a worry-free space.

How you handle stress with catch up to you and your health. Begin to make choices today the will affect your future health.

Work Strategies to Reduce Stress Now

"One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important." –Bertrand Russell
Stress can bear down on you at work every day. Memos come out with staffing changes. You open up your work emails wondering what policy or insurance adjustments you need to make. Fear rises in your gut as you wonder how you and your family are going to get by. Office gossip is at an all time high as the rumor mill churns. When you wake up each morning with a knot in your stomach, how do you better deal with a stressful work environment?

There are some major sources of anxiety in the workplace but you can put strategies in place to relieve work stress. Most of them are easy enough you can start now and begin seeing results immediately.

Schedule Overload

The first step should be to examine your schedule if you're feeling overwhelmed by your workload. Maybe you can change your routine or rearrange your schedule so you have more time in the day to get the job done. Perhaps there are some tasks you can let go of or spend less time on. You can also try to delegate the work to others in your office. If you're still feeling snowed under, talk with your boss. Communication can be the key to finding a way to lighten your load.

Co-Worker Stress

There are always going to be difficult co-workers at every job.  It's something you'll most likely face no matter where you work. Even if there's someone who is just a pain to deal with for one reason or another, you don't have to let it stress you out.

If you have a co-worker that's continually trying to get under your skin, confront the issue. You may want to do this with your boss present as to avoid any chance the difficult co-worker can turn on you or say things that didn't really happen. Document the situation to the best of your abilities. When you are under stress you make think that you will remember facts. Chances are details can be lost.

Explore your options if the frustration and stress gets too high. Maybe there’s an option for a department transfer. Human resources department can also be a support for you when the situation gets unbearable.

Demanding Boss

What can do you do when your boss is demanding? You can try talking to them in a peaceful, non-confrontational tone. Write your thoughts ahead of time and get clear about the issues. This will not only reduce your stress but help you state your case and stay on topic. Stick to the issues and the issues only. Never place blame or come across as if you know better than your boss. This kind of talk could only lead to a worse situation.

Looking at Your Future

One of the biggest causes of workplace stress is fear of job loss. Even if you've done everything to ensure your position at your company, like increasing your value as an employee, there are still no guarantees of job security

So, what can you do to help relieve some of the stress and fear?

One thing you can do is prepare for the future. Perhaps you could start taking classes at your local community college to learn a new skill or trade.

You could also start building an online business. Even though the economy is struggling, online businesses are growing every day. There are many ways you can begin securing your future now. All it takes is a little research and planning. Fine your local small business builder group in your area for resources.

Release Your Frustration

A great way to relieve work related stress is to work out regularly. Getting regular exercise helps relieve stress, especially work related stress. If you don't belong to a gym, begin working out at home. Going a quick walk regularly also reduces stress. Many people take short walks on their lunch break to let go of anxiety.

Incorporate any of these strategies into your day to help you overcome workplace stress.


When Stress Turns into Depression

“There's nothing, repeat, nothing to be ashamed of when you're going through a depression. If you get help, the chances of your licking it are really good. But, you have to get yourself onto a safe path.”—Mike Wallace

Constant stress for a long period of time breaks down your ability to cope with even the simplest of problems. Family issues, job loss and money problems can just wear you down over time. One thing is certain: depression is a debilitating illness that can leave you feeling hopeless.

Sometimes depression is described it as a sense of despair that swallows you whole. There just doesn’t seem to be a break from the pain from this illness. Many people try to self-medicate with alcohol, drugs or other substances just to feel better for the moment. The sad part is that depression is still around the next day and the depression most likely is worse.

Depression seems like it takes everything away from you; it robs your energy, focus, concentration, and especially your happiness. You just don't care about anything; nothing matters and even the people you love become unimportant.

I worked with so many people with depression on the psychiatric unit. Kate, a middle-aged woman was admitted with severe depression. “I feel like I have lost myself. I don’t even know who I am anymore.” Kate went on to talk about how she couldn’t connect with her husband anymore. She slowly began to isolate herself and stopped leaving her home.”Nobody understands me or the depression.” Kate truly believed she was a bad person and somewhere lost her worth as a person. “How could anyone love me?” she said.

As we worked together in occupational therapy, Kate talked about a time in her life that she idealized.” When I was skinny years ago, I felt like people loved me more. I just want to get that back.” She went on to say how she used food, alcohol and drugs to get that feeling back from years gone by.
Physical Issues with Depression

Depression doesn't only take its toll on your emotions and mental state; it can cause physical problems as well. Depression may cause you to either lose your appetite or eat for comfort. It also zaps your energy and motivation.

In addition, depression can lead to:

1. Lack of sleep. A symptom of depression is problems with your ability to sleep. Trouble getting and staying asleep can interfere with day to day functioning.

2. Problems with appetite. When depressed, you can lose your appetite or seek out eating too much to make you feel better.

3. Aches and pains. When you're depressed, the chemicals in the brain that signal pain are as affected as the chemicals in your brain that help you feel happy. Physical aches and pains are increased, which in turn, kicks in the sad feelings and the cycle begins again.

4. Hygiene problems. Someone suffering from depression doesn't have the energy or the motivation to be concerned with self-care, like showering or getting dressed.

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

These are some specific things those with depression experience:

• Constant sadness about everything
• Hopelessness
• Insomnia or trouble sleeping
• Irritability
• Trouble concentrating
• Loss of interest in things that once interested them
• Feeling worthless, useless and strangely guilty for no reason at all
• Serious change in weight, one way or the other
• Lack of energy and fatigue

As depression progresses, it feeds on itself like a snowball rolling downhill. The longer someone is depressed, the worse the depression gets until they see no way out of it at all. They become resigned to being miserable all the time. Feeling misunderstood is common, where the depressed person thinks that others couldn’t possibly get what they are going through.

If you know someone who is depressed, the best thing you can do is be a friend. Talk to your friend and just be there for support. Encourage counseling or professional help.

If you think you may be depressed and it’s beyond stress, talk to your health care provider. Depression doesn't have to consume your life. Help is available.


Strategies to Reduce the Stress of Moving

When you think about moving you might feel your stomach begin to knot up. Moving is often a big ordeal, but you can take steps to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible. You can ease your way into the best move possible with some good planning and backup solutions,

Even if you're planning a big move with a large family, you can make it work just as long as you refuse to get stuck on the hold ups along the way.

Try these strategies to reduce stress while you move:

1. Give yourself plenty of time. Plan your move as much as possible in advance. A gradual change is usually better than waiting until the last minute. This eases the pressure of the time crunch and provides you with a cushion in case things don't go according to plan. Instead of stressing out, you can use the extra time to come up with a back up plan.

2. Prepare children and family members. Moving can be difficult on children unless you properly prepare them for what lies ahead. Include your children in the decision-making process when it’s appropriate. Explain to them where you'll be moving and tell them what will stay the same and what will change. Limit too many details at once.

Remind them that they can still connect with their friends, even if you're moving far away. In this day and age, with technology like video chat, and more, keeping up with old friends is super easy.

3. Have a master checklist in place. A checklist will help you remember the tasks that need to get done. It's easy to let something important slide while moving, because you'll be juggling tons of task at once. A checklist will get worries off of your mind reducing your stress level a great deal. If not, your mind will run non-stop with worries.

4. Verify service set-up. When the moving date arrives, it's best to check in with everyone that will be involved. It will give you peace of mind. Have family members and friends agreed to help you move? Double check that they are still helping you. Also, heck and confirm the dates and times with the moving companies or storage unit facilities.

5. Pack you things properly. Protect yourself from the extra stress of finding out that something important of yours broke during the moving process. Ensure you have plenty of time to handle breakables and special items with care.

6. Take breaks. If you are constantly running around to complete all of your tasks, you'll wear yourself out and increase your stress. Schedule enough time for breaks. Breaks renew your physical and mental get-up-and-go, making every task run more efficiently.

7. Keep a positive attitude. Moving can cause feelings of anxiety and worry if you allow the process to overwhelm you. Focus on one task at a time, and on solutions instead of problems. A positive attitude will not only reduce your stress but will help get you through a bumpy time.
Moving stress occurs because your life is changing in a big way. Keep moving forward and think about all the new opportunities that await you at your new home- and life!

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