Master Stress-management With A Multi-Dimensional Approach

Master Stress-management With A Multi-Dimensional Approach

  When walking stairs the body needs to balance on one foot in order to lift the other in motion upward or downward. Eventually both feet land on one surface. Learning how to master taking a step is multi-dimensional. It requires physical, intellectual, and emotional performance. Mastering managing stress is multi-dimensional. The following story illustrates two different reactions to stress: One adult recalled that her father was a friendly, loud, active man who loved to play with her in a very active way when she was small, picking her up and tossing her in the air. Unfortunately, this woman was severely gravitationally insecure, so every time he did this she was terrified, and she hated having him come near her as she did not know when she would be tossed about. Her father felt rejected by her response and eventually gave up interacting with her, resulting in a significant emotional distance between them. She recalled one particular day, when in exasperation, her father told her,...
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What Distorted Thinking Is and How To Stop It

What Distorted Thinking Is and How To Stop It

In the past there were few classrooms or households teaching exactly what a healthy relationship is. Parents may model valuable aspects but don't physically sit down with their children as teachers of Relationships 101. A healthy relationship from 'the inside out' identifies what communication can become. Healthy relationships begin with an honest self assessment. It requires being prepared for a life-long journey of education. It is effortful work, time and awareness to identify then replace distorted information that the mind believes as truth. There are many layers to replacing distorted thinking. Author and professor Benjamin K. Bergen explains in Louder than Words that we simulate experiences, actions and performances in our mind through a scientifically proven process called embodied simulation. "Meaning, according to the embodied simulation hypothesis, isn’t just abstract mental symbols; it’s a creative process, in which people construct virtual experiences—embodied simulations—in their mind’s eye." (Scientific American, 2012) Bergen identifies that we do this deep within our brain processes, during our waking and sleeping hours. Therefore, mental...
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Key Aspects to Achieving These Seven Leadership Values

Key Aspects to Achieving These Seven Leadership Values

Occupational therapy practitioners are found in a variety of industries outside of health care, including automotive, architecture and non-profit sectors. Jim Burns is a major in the U.S. Army as well as chief of O.T. at Evans Army Community Hospital in Fort Carson, Colorado. He quoted Max Depree to support his opinion of what the key aspect of leadership is: selfless service. "The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality; the last is to say ‘Thank you.’ In between the two, the leader must become a servant." Burns integrates an abridged version of the U.S. Army's leadership development philosophy in his philosophy of these seven values: Discipline, Motivation, Altruism, Physical Fitness, Continuing Education, Creativity, and being Respectful. Values emphasize behavior patterns, goal setting, and communication. Each requires an internal force or the will to act. Collaboration and connection builds achievement. Social-being cues senses to form opinions. Design...
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Five Questions to Identify Which Stress Condition Is at Risk

Five Questions to Identify Which Stress Condition Is at Risk

One-fourth of all employees view their job as the number one stress in their lives. ¹  Yale University found that twenty-six percent workers report they are "often or very often burned out or stressed by their work. ² Health care expenditures are nearly fifty percent greater for workers who report high levels of stress. ³ The National Institute of Occupational Science and Health state that job stress is: the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources or needs of the worker. Identifying the varied signs of job stress are what occupational therapy practitioners are skilled at. Stress is rarely seen as serious by both employees and employers. It's become a societal norm that people simply refer to their day as 'so busy'. Research resolved speculation of body and mind side-effects as early warning signs of job stress, including: cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal and psychological disorders. Workplace injury, suicide, cancer, ulcers and impaired immune systems are more often...
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Seven Steps That will Reduce Debilitating Stress and Fear

Seven Steps That will Reduce Debilitating Stress and Fear

Last week a group of women revealed the frustration of relational stress. Following our discussion it was revealed the cause of high stress was poor communication. The computer, cell phone, landline, and various wireless signals are convenient replacements to connecting in person. Each severely lowers body movement, including a stroll or brisk walk to meet a peer within a building or even the body mechanics to drive to a meeting. Anxiety disorders are rising in the United States and social media is one mechanism that is pulling the trigger. 40 million American adults fall into debilitating uncertainty or fear (NIMH). Social norms are to seek visual or audible rewards from screens. Coping weighs on the amount of those rewards are received each day. Emotional processing is quickly steering away from inward reflection for outward expression by catloging feelings in ink, graphic, and other creative mediums. Screens and keyboards are slowly replacing nourishing handwritten thoughts, sketched imagery, and hand-crafted tokens of appreciation to mail by parcel....
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Sharpening Abilities and Skills

Sharpening Abilities and Skills

Stories of heroism often begins with a disadvantaged person who appears to be approaching an unthinkable or uncontrollable situation.  The characters in those stories typically overcome the obstacles to achieving that thing they are seeking. What is one situation you feel is a disadvantage? Change is inevitable. So, let the air out of your tires to move under that bridge that appears as an obstacle to getting to the other side. Use your number one strength to overcome the following obstacles: You have arthritis in your fingers, knees, and neck. A natural disaster destroyed everything you own. The person you trust the most confessed they abused a child. Questions to Ask: How did your ability prevail in each these scenarios? What motivates you to move forward through what appears as a disadvantage? What current resources are most likely underutilized for the ability to overcome a...
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Peers In the Workplace That Are Recovering From Trauma

Peers In the Workplace That Are Recovering From Trauma

Peers in the workplace that are recovering from trauma will have difficulty verbalizing their emotions or even a simple thought (VanderKolk, 2014).  There is an uncertainty about life that confuses as they sort through their trauma.  With time and repetition, their communication patterns will slowly form into crisp, clear, confidant responses. Confidence often comes after strategy. Chess is a great example of strategy. Wikipedia enlightens on the historical game of chess, once called curling: a great deal of strategy and teamwork goes into choosing the ideal path and placement of a stone for each situation, and the skills of the curlers determine how close to the desired result the stone will achieve. Workplace culture words optimize strategies. Teamwork helps but listening and comprehension is key.  A safe environment and it's objects enable trust. Interiors or dwelling spaces communicate a context to influence communication, confidence. 99% Invisible provides a concrete example of this. In his podcast on broken glass, Roman Mars concluded: ...architecture is personal.  The strangest part...
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Why Destructive Behaviors May Be Performance Supporting Tactics

Why Destructive Behaviors May Be Performance Supporting Tactics

Celebrating meeting a deadline met or coping with managerial tactics arouses feelings. Sensations become acute in these and numerous other performance moments. What is heard and seen are most discussed but there is also smell, tactile, exertion, instinct, and taste sensations. The exertion of heavy feet walking through an office or facial hair petting are two sensory tactics that calm the nervous system. The comfort of a soft-foam, fabric covered chair to sit in verses a firm, swivel seat may improve one's ability to focus on research work. Alternatively, the motion of rocking and swiveling may distribute sensations for reducing anger while in an emotional overhaul. Salty or sweet tastes often and unknowingly provide hormone or body chemistry support. All these pleasure-seeking sensations are coping strategies for managing feelings that directly effect the nervous system. Each response must not be too quickly classified as destructive or unhealthy if the central nervous system had the ability to speak with words. Sensory patterns may change with...
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Six Key Employee and Workplace Contextual Elements

Six Key Employee and Workplace Contextual Elements

There are workplaces with a culture expectation of work tracked by shift hours or a behavior standard to cover all tattoos. A workplace belief and custom may be whispering through cubicle workstations. These are examples of contextual elements in the workplace. Context is one of three performance factors used to improve performance outcomes. Contextual elements identify opportunities for education, employment and economic support as accepted by the culture in which one is a member. Context is one of three performance factors to divide performance into behavior-specific elements. The elements categorized as contextual include: expectations of culture, personal beliefs and customs, behavioral standards, demographics, stage of life and history, and relationship to time.   Occupation and sense are the additional factors to organizing performance elements. The context factor digs into workplace policy and procedures, as well as the employee's present state of workability, perspective, and values. When employee...
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When Work Routines Are Necessary or Not

When Work Routines Are Necessary or Not

Creating routines improves performance because by nature it becomes a habit. Being of a curious nature provides moments of drifting off a routine path. This initially offers excitement and may lead to altering a routine. It may also result in suffering. There's risk in drifting off routine, yet there is reward with sticking to them. Routines create commitment. It may be a cultural routine which often is temporary. However, routines are patterns of behavior that are observable, regular, repetitive and provide structure for daily life.* Psychology Today presented how people often change in unpredictable ways over time.  "Ultimately, of course, we bear the responsibility for who we are. But the way we influence who we are isn't by simply deciding to be different. We have to be clever. We have to pull levers—arrange positive influences—that actually yield the changes we want." This may be why a routine is temporary. Questions to Ask: Which internal influence draws out of a work routine? ...
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Work May Trigger Repetitive Conflicts

Work May Trigger Repetitive Conflicts

Work behaviors are a distinct part of you. We may have control over our home environments but our work environments are a collaboration of peers. The workplace has a culture of unwritten values creating its community. Regardless of who or what sets the cultural tone, there will be things that trigger you out of your control into an unhealthy zone  (CompPsych 2013). There are strategies to prepare for this. Its those other ways you occupy your time that directly effect your behaviors. Sleep is one statistically proven strategy (Foster 2013). What other ways do you occupy your time? Play, the commute to work, or self-care routines are some.  When we walk over the threshold into the workplace we bring all of life's current events with us. This is natural with health consequences if avoided (Duke 2006). Relief to exist in the workplace includes evolving and creating strategies unique to your needs. The body functions to take in information, process it, then...
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Selflessness as Free Medicine

Selflessness as Free Medicine

When you get stuck in a rut and are so so stressed out how do you feel? At a pivotal point in my life ten years ago my feelings kicked me into action mode. I believed the stride required being alone but chose environments that supported healthy healing to cope through the stress. Loneliness lengthened my healing process. We are relational beings. Once I learned a method to break down self-judgement and shame I slowly invited others into my life. This action taught selflessness. Lets look at how research supports selflessness as free medicine to mind, body, soul. Giving or sharing is an innate feeling (Brown 2003). Like all other behaviors it requires acting on the feeling over time to become a skill, habit, pattern. Sharing space with others improves the immune system, sleep, and circulation (Cohen et. al 2005). Unselfish kindness and warmth towards all people reduces cellular aging and lengthens life (Hoge et. al 2013). Incorporate the fullness of what...
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Provoke Approval With Postured Assurance

Provoke Approval With Postured Assurance

Have you lived within a culture that isn't your own? Over the years I've been personally challenged through unfamiliar cultures. A few examples of cultures I need to adapt to includes an indian reservation, farming community, tourist town, and middle-eastern religions. Beyond the smells, language or customs just transitioning from a geographical move is tough! Overcoming adversity presents two choices: be open to it, or deny it. Choosing which path is the power to ultimately steer performance. Forethought is a natural impulse that digs into personal values, morals, and beliefs. That of openness or denial begins the body, mind and spirit path to performing towards positive outcomes. Even choosing an openness to drink from a new water source goes through the natural impulse of forethought. It subjects the digestive system to work through a new source that may or may not be good for the body. In this case, for some, denial may be the path for better health. One powerful...
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The Clear Advantage To a Furnished Space with Inspiring Objects

The Clear Advantage To a Furnished Space with Inspiring Objects

What's to do with years of old memorabilia?  Often I strongly consider burying my journals and random objects of meaning in a time capsule. Are objects worthwhile to keep for security of feelings? Five years ago this month I began to travel with only one carry-on. The trail-hopping between furnished temporary living quarters was freeing and challenging. Prior to leaving my home state I shed furnishings, products, and clothes to simplify my valuables into as few storage bins as possible.  Recently all six bins shipped from Michigan to Los Angeles. Immediately I sold the emptied bins on Craigslist for a bundle deal of $50. The need to rekindle with my old belongings was met. An outpour of feelings while combing through old memorabilia caused questioning: Why keep past objects within view? The energy that arrives when viewing objects or words from the past may be as resourceful as your best friend. An object brings feelings that are associate with it - a celebration, a death, a transition in life....
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8 Easy Freebies For Guaranteed Body Support At Work or For Travel

8 Easy Freebies For Guaranteed Body Support At Work or For Travel

Adjusting to work conditions as a telecommuter has its challenges. Good fortune may bring a flat surface wide enough to support a laptop. Typically, its propped across the legs with occasional havoc if they're crossed. The back bumper of a car may become a chair. A work surface may be the cost of a warm beverage. Sometimes the price jacks-up when there's the unfortunate parking ticket. Of course, there is that occasional back corner desk that costs musty smells from trash-worthy office furnishings. A spirited stress-less performance while on the road depends on adaption.  This doesn't mean to desensitize postural or mental supremacy. These costs become epidemic to musculoskeletal disorders to the spine or hips or suppressive anxiety beatings. The occasional is an exception but retirement may span into later years if hospital bills or absences from poor work conditions deplete savings accounts. Here are 8 easy freebies guaranteed to unburden and support the mind and body when working or traveling. No new furnishings or equipment required to do these. Frequent...
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The Wellbeing Tactic of Conserving Energy

The Wellbeing Tactic of Conserving Energy

Last night my brother-in-law asked my opinion on the blueprint for their kitchen. It's naked to the studs with an open map to plan task paths. We moved the location of light switches, refrigerator, dishwasher and talked through the ergonomics of a built-in nook. The emphasis here wasn't only ergonomics but their lifestyle, functionality and how to best conserve body energy . Built-in environments benefit from incorporating the wellbeing tactic of conserving energy.  This strategy reduces the onset of fatigue. Energy Conservation Techniques (ECT) prevent illness and injury. This occupational science study shares successful outcomes for a group who implemented ECT through occupational therapy guidance. Below are four principles the UofM Inpatient Acute Care team endorses: PACE Stop. Rest before you get fatigued.  It is easier to recover your energy by avoiding to work until fatigued.  Practice abdominal breathing during rest breaks.  Inhale through your nose while expanding your belly and exhale through your mouth while relaxing your belly. PLAN Before initiating an activity develop a plan. Include every detail. Include how much...
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Relaxing is Healthy

Relaxing is Healthy

How often do we need to remind ourself that relaxing is healthy? It's an activity worthy to schedule. Europeans do. They shut down businesses for up to 6 hours after noon. Sweden recently introduced a six hour working day (Matharu 2015).  Leisure is one way we occupy our time within those everyday life activities (AOTA 2014). This occupation is a role that holds significant value to work, household management, education, socializing, etc. Questions to Ask: How many times in one day is their a period of relaxation? Is it counterproductive to relax for five minutes an hour during a work day? What is involved in a period of relaxation? Does periods of relaxation cause the feeling of restlessness, as though it's 'waisting time'?   A recent study of 600,000 global men and women found those working 55 hours or more had a 33% greater risk of a stroke.  A visually inviting green space, a...
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Try These Five Breathing Boosts To Overcome Feeling Tired or Burned Out

Try These Five Breathing Boosts To Overcome Feeling Tired or Burned Out

Sigh. Not a word muttered, yet a deep exhale is serious communication from the body. Over ninety percent of my clients need to be re-educated on breathing due to poor oxygen intake or poor energy conservation. It's time to breathe. Harvard Health claims "reawakening (breathing) allows you to tap one of your body’s strongest self-healing mechanisms." In times of stress or pain deference we unknowingly hold our breath. This brutal beating ages us. Try these five breathing boosts to overcome feeling tired or burned out: Take a Deep Breath offers the science of breathing. Breath Focus is an excellent reference on relaxation offering one to ten minute techniques. When the ideal environment isn't available for you to relax, your imagination always is! Harvard Health's 10 minute relaxation technique may guide you through a thoughtful process into your imagination.  That image, object - your 'go-to' places can be used without delay, any time, no matter how much time is available. The idea is this: incorporate relaxation into your day.  Shift a reactive measure into...
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Boost Sleep

Boost Sleep

All this social media talk about sleep. Is it overrated? Sleep is an occupation that directly supports its counterpart occupations including work, self-care, participation, education, and interdependent relationships. The inability to sleep over an average of 7.5 hours every night directly creates a counterforce to focusing, problem-solving, and carrying-out actions in team-work, competitiveness, and productivity. Will-power weakens enabling absences and illness caused from poor hygiene and body care. The less or more sleep the steeper the hill to being productive or to be at your best performance (Hublin et al 2013). To get to a lifestyle of aging gracefully and maintaining daily performance ask these questions: Is proficient self-care present? Is stress being burrowed by unhealthy behaviors (over-eating, laziness, blaming others)? Is it difficult to fall asleep most nights? What patterns most often occur with lack of sleep? What routines remedy next day blahs from lack of sleep? Humans are...
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