Tips and strategies to take care of yourself.
Last week, I talked about six tips to help you avoid burn out. Here are six more:
1. Manage your time. Poor time management is another thing we do that leads to burnout. Set regular business hours. Make appointments with yourself to get things done – and keep them! Being on time counts, show up promptly for appointments and expect others to do the same.
2. Stop blaming yourself or others. If you’re playing the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” game, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate your attitude. Blaming yourself or others for things that have gone wrong doesn’t help. What does? Learn from your experiences and make changes to ensure that you get the results you want the next time.
3. Value yourself by establishing boundaries and limits. Learn how to do it in a way that clear and consistent. Don’t give away too much of your time. Let people know your policies and procedures. Be upfront with what’s acceptable and what’s not. Learn how to say no.
4. Deal with your emotions. Keeping your feelings inside usually leads to trouble. If you are feeling any kind of negative emotion, don’t deny it. Instead, learn how to acknowledge your feelings, be up front with them; and deal with the underlying causes.
5. Laugh, smile and enjoy the ride! Life is too short to worry and be serious all the time. Find ways to make your work fun and enjoyable.
6. Don’t feel embarrassed to ask for help. Everybody needs a little help once in a while. You can’t do everything yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask friends or associates for help, or hire a professional when needed.
Many people experience burnout at some point in their lives. Massage Therapists are even more likely to fall prey to burnout especially when they are self-employed because the buck stops with them. If you feel as if you’re starting to burn out here are some things you can do to avoid it.
1. Take care of #1. If you’re run down, you’ll burn out faster. Make sure you get enough sleep, eat right, exercise and de-stress on a regular basis.
2. Make the time to do nothing! We all need to take time to relax, refresh and replenish. Don’t keep pushing yourself. Keep regular business hours and take breaks during your work day. Make sure to schedule in time off and vacations on a regular basis. You’ll come back with a fresh outlook and perspective.
3. Get back in touch with the things you value. Is your work fulfilling and meaningful for you? If not, check in with your values. What’s missing? Where are you compromising? What needs to be eliminated? What are you merely tolerating? Re-assess and re-adjust your priorities as needed. If you work for yourself, you’re in control. Make the choices you want to make by honoring what’s important for you.
4. Think out of the box and challenge yourself consistently. If work has become a chore or you’re in a rut, try spicing things up a bit! Find innovative ways to do mundane tasks, create new products or services to add to your offering, improve performance, or tweak what you do best and make it even better.
5. Establish realistic expectations for what you can and cannot accomplish. If you find that you’re driving yourself too hard it may be time to let go of unrealistic expectations and readjust. Shorten your to-do list, give yourself some slack when needed and know when to let up on yourself and others.
6. Learn how to communicate clearly. Resolve conflicts, don’t run from them. Let people know what you expect from them, and ask them what they expect from you. Be clear and concise with what you say, and how you say it. Listen closely to the people around you, it will teach them to listen closely to you.
According to the Law of Attraction whatever we focus on expands. All too often we concentrate on what is wrong with our bodies, our relationships, our lives, and our businesses. If we are focusing on what is wrong and the Law of Attraction says that what we focus on expands aren’t we getting more of what is wrong? What a vicious cycle and totally avoidable.
How you ask? I want you to stop being critical of yourself and I want you to focus on what is right – your successes. You will journal these successes – the “ups” of your life into a “Success Journal.” Journaling is the act of writing out your thoughts. By writing your successes, you train yourself to see what is working, relieve stress and tension, and multiply your successes, creating a “delicious” cycle as a former instructor of mine used to say. Remember that what you focus on expands. Since we are now focusing on our successes, we will draw more successes.
Some people find journaling difficult in general and now I am asking you to write only about your successes. Just in case you may be having a little difficulty, let me give you some ideas about what could be successes in the various areas of our lives:
Regarding our bodies
1. I went on a 30 minute walk first thing this morning.
2. I ate very healthy yesterday – all day!
3. I looked dynamite in my little black dress when my husband took me out to dinner last night.
4. My complexion looked very healthy this morning after my shower.
5. I lost two pounds this week without trying very hard – just by eating healthy and walking a few times a week. This is so different from the previous times I have tried.
Regarding our relationships
1. My husband and I had a great time at dinner last night. He took me to my favorite restaurant.
2. I love it when my daughter helps me with the breakfast dishes as she did this morning.
3. My son and I had an enlightening conversation about why I should let him borrow the car this weekend to take his girlfriend out. He was so entertaining, I am seriously considering it.
Regarding our lives (work, financial, health or whatever else you want to write about here)
1. I saved $10 at the grocery store by using coupons.
2. My client thanked me for helping him feel better. This acknowledgement made me feel appreciated.
3. I am having a massage after work today. I am looking forward to the relaxation. I deserve it.
4. I got 5 new clients this month and we still have two weeks left in the month.
You don’t have to write for an extended period of time, unless you want to. I recommend writing for 2-5 minutes each day. I do, however, recommend writing first thing in the morning because you are writing about your successes which will set you up for more successes throughout the day. Remember the Law of Attraction says whatever your focus on expands! Go ahead, end that vicious cycle, create a “delicious” cycle!
Here are some other tips to get you started:
1. Get yourself a journal dedicated specifically to record your successes. Journals come in all varieties. You should get one that appeals to you. Below are some resources to get you started.
2. Find a quite, clutter-free area to record your successes.
3. Remember only record the successes! And be sure to report back and share your experiences.
Do you have any tips for journaling? Be sure to share them in the comments. I’m always looking for ways to improve my journaling experience.
This is a crucial question: what makes your life worthwhile? And you need to know the answer. Because if you know what does, you can do more of it – and feel happier. Although this is a crucial question, we don’t tend to ask it very often.
The question is not only important for us as individuals, it’s crucial for our communities and countries. At present, the well-being of a country is rated by the GDP, the Gross Domestic Product. But is that really a relevant benchmark?
Chip Conle – one of the new breed of compassionate entrepreneurs – went in search of a business model based upon happiness. In an old friendship with an employee and in the wisdom of a Buddhist king, he learned that success comes from what you makes peoples’ lives worthwhile. Watch the video below and then skip down to my final question.
So, here is the important question:
What makes YOUR life worthwhile?
Please share your thoughts in the comments.
New research shows that research for cancer prevention is moving in a totally new direction. Evidence proves that certain foods prohibit cancer from taking hold or stop it coming back altogether.
Check out this video by Dr. William Li. He explains that drugs designed to cut off a cancerous tumor’s blood supply show promise, but diet can help keep the process from even starting in the first place.
According to Dr. William Li, we should eat the following foods in order to starve cancer: red grapes, strawberries, soy beans, parsley, and garlic. From my other research and readings, some foods like strawberries and grapes should be organically grown, if possible, because they carry a heavy pesticide load.
Check out the video to see amazing graphs of how these foods can help cancer to be starved of blood supply.
Dr. Li also cites research by the Harvard School of Public Health by Dr. Lorelei Mucci of 79,000 men:
“Men who consume 2-3 servings of cooked tomatoes per week have a reduced risk for developing prostrate cancer by 40-50%”
This is a new revolution in cancer prevention and treatment. Please share this post through Tweets and emails so that this information reaches as many people as possible.
Anticancer by David Servan-Schreiber
“Intelligence is not to make no mistakes, but quickly to see how to make them good.” –Bertolt Brecht
New research shows that intelligence can be boosted. Brain scientists divide intelligence into two different aspects, fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence.
Fluid intelligence is the ability to step outside of our beliefs and use information which does not fit into our previously accepted view of reality. It is the ability to find meaning in confusion and to solve new problems, independent of previous knowledge.
Fluid intelligence helps us to solve problems. It was previously believed that this ability couldn’t be enhanced. However, new research shows that carefully designed brain training tools can improve this ability.
Tests results showed that those who trained more showed significantly more improvement compared to those who trained less. The research suggests that training branches up cells and form more connections between them.
Fluid intelligence is connected to the short-term memory. Programs that aim at boosting fluid intelligence, also try to improve the working memory.
Forget about brain age: current research shows that we can improve intelligence at any age. Here are some ways to help you improve your intelligence:
1. Become an early adaptor
Do you sometimes feel left behind by new developments? Take the Internet as an example. New trends appear just about weekly. Just think of the development of social media.
There are two groups of users, early adaptors and late adaptors. Early adaptors learn about new trends, study them and try out new software or gadgets. Late adaptors wait until the mainstream culture has caught up with a trend.
A way for your fluid intelligence to improve is to become an early adaptor.
2. Think Outside the Box
Whenever you want to solve a problem and can’t find an answer, search for a solution outside the box. If you do that, you become an agent of change. DeBono’s technique of Six Thinking Hats may be useful. (Please note: I have not read this book.)
3. Learn new skills
When did you last learn a completely new skill? It’s easy to become complacent with skills we have mastered in the past. However, it’s essential for brain growth to learn learn new skills. Because learning allows the brain to create neurons and new pathways.
4. Practice brain gym exercises
Fifty years ago, gyms that focused on strength training were unknown. Nowadays we know that it’s important to exercise our muscles and boost fitness at any age. However, it’s less accepted that we need to train our brain regularly as well.
You can check out how an exercise to boost visual memory works.
Another highly rated program is MindFit. It has been endorsed by leading neurologists, but I haven’t tried it yet myself.
Find more good ideas on how to exercise your brain in The Sharp Brains Guide to Brain Fitness. (Please note: I have not read this book.)
5. Learn to meditate
One of the reasons meditation helps with brain fitness, is that it trains attention. That is, the ability to focus on one thing for a prolonged period of time. Obviously, this is useful when training the working memory. If someone says their name and your mind is elsewhere, there is no way you will remember it!
We can support brain health by good nutrition:
- Increase your water intake
- Eat natural antioxidants such as blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, spinach, Brussel sprouts, red peppers, avocados, etc.
- Include Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, found in deep-sea fish and fish oil.
As you can see, there is much we can do for brain fitness. The most important factor is the attitude we have. If we keep a positive outlook and keep on being willing to learn, our brain will develop, no matter what age we are.
Why meditate? On one level, meditation is a tool. It can help combat stress, fosters physical health, helps with chronic pain, can make you sleep better, feel happier, be more peaceful, as well as be ‘present’. But on a deeper level, meditation is a doorway into the unknown. It can help us get a sense of who we are.
When you start meditating, you will notice that your mind wanders a lot. This is perfectly natural. Try to be gentle with yourself. In time you will learn to manage the barrage of thoughts and you will develop clarity and peacefulness.
Here are some simple tips on how to start meditating.
1. Place – It’s lovely to create a special place dedicated to meditation. You can even place a candle or other objects such as stones, seashells, or flowers that appeal to you.
2. Length – Start with 1 to 2 minutes and only sit longer if you feel that is too short. Don’t force yourself to meditate longer if you are not ready to do that. In time you might like to extend your meditation to 5, 10, 20 and eventually 30 minutes. Most importantly, shrug off any ‘shoulds’. Some people enjoy sitting for an hour at a time. Others find that they can’t sit longer than 10 minutes. Do what feels right for you!
3. Posture – Whether you sit on a chair or cross-legged on the floor, make sure that your spine is straight. If you are slumped your mind will drift. Mind and body are intertwined. If your body is well-balanced, your mind will also be in balance. To straighten up, imagine that your head is touching the sky.
4. Eyes – Try and keep your eyes open. Open eyes allow you to be more ‘present’. Just lower your eyes and soften your focus. If you close your eyes you will be more likely to drift away on thoughts and possibly fall asleep. However, it’s important to do what is comfortable for you. Some people find closing their eyes much more effective. It’s good to experiment and see what feels best for you.
5. Focus – In ordinary consciousness we are hardly ever ‘present’. For example, sometimes we drive a car on autopilot while being preoccupied with thoughts. Suddenly we arrive at our destination and don’t remember anything about the drive!
Meditation is a wonderful way of waking up to our life. Otherwise we miss most of our experiences because we are somewhere else in our mind! Let’s take a look at what focus is. In ordinary life, we tend to equate focus with concentration. It is like using the mind like a concentrated beam of light. But in meditation, that kind of mind isn’t helpful. It’s too sharp and edgy. To focus in meditation means to pay soft attention to whatever you place in your awareness. I suggest using the breath as a focus. It’s like a natural door that connects ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. Zen Master Toni Packer says, “Attention comes from nowhere. It has no cause. It belongs to no one.”
6. The breath – Paying attention to the breath is a great way to anchor yourself in the present moment. Notice your breath streaming in and out. There’s no need to regulate the breath – just let it be natural. If you are having difficulties calming down, you can try counting the breath – which is an ancient meditation practice. When you exhale, silently count “one”, then “two”, and up to “ten”. Then return to “one”. Whenever you notice your thoughts have strayed simply return to “one”. In this way, “one” is like coming home to the present moment.
7. Thoughts – When you notice thoughts, gently let them go by returning your focus on the breath. Don’t try and stop thoughts; this will just make you feel agitated. Acknowledge their presence and politely ask them to leave.
8. Emotions – It’s difficult to settle into meditation if you are struggling with strong emotions. The way to deal with strong emotions in meditation is to focus on feelings that accompany the emotion. For example, this could be the tight band of fear around the chest or the hot roiling of anger in the belly. Try to let go of the emotion and the feeling and refocus on your body.
9. Silence – Silence is healing. I know that there is a lot of ‘meditation music’ around, but nothing beats simple silence. Otherwise music or sound drowns out the chatter in your mind. When we sit in silence, we actually get to experience what our mind is doing. There is steadiness and calmness that comes from sitting in silence.
10. Enjoyment – Most of all it’s important to enjoy meditation. You might like to try sitting with a hint of a smile. Be kind to yourself. Start sitting just a little each day. It’s helpful to establish a daily habit.
Do you have any other tips for meditation? Post them in the comments.
“And here comes the snow… A language in which no word is ever repeated.”
The sky was filled with falling snow starting at 10 PM on Friday night. It snowed and it snowed….until Saturday late into the evening. It was the most snow we’ve seen in Virginia in a very long time – between 20 – 24″. We got 19″ in Alexandria. They even declared it a blizzard.
Watching those snowflakes reminded of a book called Snowflakes that I once picked up in the bookstore. As I stood in the aisle of the bookstore, flipping through the book, I found myself utterly fascinated by the images of snowflakes, each unique and each so magically beautiful. (If you haven’t already clicked on the link, check out Snowflakes on Amazon and “Click to Look Inside” to see some of the images from the book.)
Of course, this brings me back to the analogy between snowflakes and people. While there are many similarities between us as human beings, just like those little flakes of snow, we are really quite unique.
However, snowflakes rarely fall individually. They usually cling together and fall in a big clump. So true, it is for us too. We are individuals yet society wants to put us into nice tidy categories so we can understand them better. It’s always so much easier when we can describe someone by their appearances, skills or qualities.
Unfortunately, we can’t really put people as neatly into boxes as we’d like to. Thankfully, we are a little more complex than that! Even the most patient person can get frazzled at times. The sweetest person can lose her temper. Every person, every situation, is different.
Instead of trying put people into categories, we should embrace them for who they are.
What would happen if we viewed people the same way as an exotic flower or a wild animal – waiting to learn about them and their beauty instead of making assumptions based on their appearance or our preconceived notions of what a human of their age, gender, ethnicity, religion… should be like?
Here a five ways to celebrate the uniqueness in others and yourself.
1. Be open-minded. It’s easy to look for similarities you have with someone else. However, when you open your mind to someone’s differences you just may get a better appreciation and awareness.
2. Be an independent thinker. You may find yourself going with the flow without really thinking for yourself. It may be tempting to think negatively of a person, if you hear someone talking about him that way. Stop and think about how unique people are. You’ll probably realize that it’s best to assess others for yourself.
3. Don’t be presumptuous. Do you make assumptions about someone very quickly after meeting them? It takes time to get to know someone and all of their idiosyncrasies.
4. Don’t be judgmental. When you meet someone for the first time, it can be so easy to judge them based on appearance alone, but think about how that would make you feel. Would you like to be judged based only on your appearance? Aren’t you more complex than that? I’m sure you are and people are not as simple as we’d like to think.
5. Embrace the unknown. We are often quick to put people into categories because we are scared of not knowing who they are. Just because something is different or unexplainable to you doesn’t mean it’s negative.
Celebrate the ways we are all unique. All of our differences are awesome and it’s so important to see the positive in them.
We are all snowflakes. We are independent of one another and yet drawn to each other. Remember the uniqueness in others and, just as importantly, remember it in yourself. There is no one — and never, ever will be anyone — just like you.
How do you celebrate the absolute awesomeness of being uniquely you?
What tactics do you use to remind yourself that others are unique?
It is December 17th – just 8 days until Christmas. How are you surviving?
The holidays are a time for great joy for some, and a time of stress for others. The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is typically a very busy time for massage therapists. Not only do we have our regular clients to tend to but we are spending time sending out holiday cards, on marketing promotions and selling Gift Certificates.
We are massage therapists! Our job is to help nurture and heal others. But not at the expense of our own health and well-being. So I have put together the following suggestions to help you “bust” the holiday stress and enjoy this time even more. They will be quick because I know you are busy.
Get enough sleep. With all there is to do during the holidays, it is easy to pay for the additional time required by sleeping less. The problem for many is that when they don’t get enough sleep, they get cranky and don’t enjoy what they are doing as much. So take the time for adequate sleep. That way you will have the energy to get into the full swing of things and enjoy it as it happens.
Plan ahead. We know well in advance that the holidays will require a lot more of our time for special preparations in addition to our regular routines and responsibilities. The solution is to plan ahead and schedule these tasks and events with greater care. If you didn’t plan accordingly this year you may want to delegate.
Delegate. There is a lot of difference between “I do it” and “It gets done.” Sure it’s fun to “do it all,” but that may be an impractical goal that only serves to frazzle and stress you out. Share the shopping, cooking and cleaning with others. People generally appreciate the opportunity to participate in the preparations.
Meditate. Research by Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn shows how chronic stress directly interferes with the ability of our cells to renew tissues in the body which is linked to accelerated aging and other nasty diseases. Meditation actually helps to reduce stress and it effects on the body. You don’t have to do it for hours. Just get into a calm, relaxing mode for just a few minutes. It helps!
Get a massage. We know the benefits of massage because we tell our tell clients. When you don’t have the time for a massage is when you need it the most.
Enjoy the journey. Don’t “dread” any part of it, the shopping, the wrapping, the cooking, the cleaning. Find happiness in all of it and you will be less stressed.
Have any other stress busters to share? Post them in the comments.