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Working Too Hard? Here Are 12 Things You Can Do About It

12 Things You Can Do About Working Too Hard

We’ve talked about the 11 signs that you’re working too hard. If you recognised yourself in those signs that you’re over-doing it, we’ve put together some tips to help you slow your life down again.

Twelve things you can do for a calmer, happier, less stressful life.

1. Put your arms in the air

Stand with feet hip width apart:

  • inhale raise arms up in front and overhead, as you exhale bring arms down beside you
  • inhale raise arms out beside you then up overhead exhale bring them back down beside you
  • repeat 10 times.

If you’re stuck in a stuffy environment do this on and off throughout the day. Yep, people will think you’re odd to begin with; you’ll get over it and they will get past it. Putting your arms in the air helps to make you feel more lively and can help give you a different perspective. Try it now and see!

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Are You Working Too Hard? Here are 11 signs…

Twee as it may sound, ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ is a truism.

Signs you're working too hard

Below are 11 signs that you may be overdoing it on the work front.These indicators that you are no longer coping with this aspect of your life can be a gateway to a better existence. It is often said that life is a journey, well if that’s true what kind of a ride are you having?

If you relate to any of the symptoms below, then it may be time to make positive changes. Developing a better balance between the various parts of your life could make your journey more of an adventure.

1. You can no long contain your anger

Sudden angry outbursts or angry reactions disproportionate to the event/conversation, constant sniping or unpleasant jibes are symptoms of stress. Incessant anger can be an indicator of a deeper issue such a loss or bereavement.

2. You’re behaviour is irrational

Have you found yourself doing something completely alien to you like booking a train to somewhere you’ve never been or spending a lot of money on inappropriate clothing or things for the home? Behaviour that is out of the ordinary can be a sign of stress and that you’re over-doing it in the workplace.

3. You break down in tears without warning

If you are usually quite controlled, but start breaking down in tears at the slightest thing you may need a break!

4. Complete loss of interest

A sure sign of stress is boredom with everything in your life and a lack of desire to see friends, or go out and join in your usual activities. Constant thoughts of ‘why bother’ or ‘what’s the point’ are angry thoughts – albeit inverted anger – which can present itself as a mild depression.

5. Sleep problems

Are you finding it hard to get off to sleep? Are you waking constantly throughout the night or waking early?? Perhaps you are falling asleep at inappropriate times? Sleep disturbances are a cue that something is out of balance in your life: there’s too much going on and your brain is not resting at the right time.

Smoking stress

6. Mental Confusion

One client described her mental confusion as fuzziness, “it’s like someone has taken my brain and put cotton wool in its place”. If you’re finding it difficult to concentrate and apply yourself maybe you are overdoing things on the work front.

7. Physical Symptoms

Physical manifestations of stress include feeling over-heated (and irritable as a consequence). Certain types (A personality) may feel mentally hot and a rising heat in the body, which pushes their irritability up even further.

8. Onset of panic and anxiety

Feelings of dread, panic and anxiety in the stomach, chest and throat suggest that you’re struggling to keep on top of things. Maybe you feel overwhelmed with the responsibilities or fear you won’t cope with your workload.

9. Change in eating habits

If you are overeating and constantly focused on your next snack or meal, or conversely have completely lost your appetite and never think about eating, it may be time to look at your workload.

10. Obsessions

Any disproportionate urge to ‘use’ – be it cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, sex, exercise, food, gambling, shopping or any other ‘fix’ – is a pointer that all is not well.

11. Phobias

A sudden onset of a phobia or compulsion may suggest work overload.

So are you working too hard? Stay tuned for 11 things you can do about it.

For a stress-free life, download the Stresshacker self-hypnosis audio

 

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What Would You Achieve If You Knew You Couldn’t Fail?

Zig Ziglar

I frequently get asked by leaders and managers how they can stay motivated. This week, I was talking to a sales director who was asking why he had to constantly motivate his teams and I was reminded of this quote by Zig Ziglar:

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.

In these challenging times, motivation is critical for personal, family and business success. Getting and staying motivated — both individually and as a family or team — is essential. People often see motivation as something that happens to you, either you are or you aren’t, but it doesn’t work like that.

Motivated employees produce better results. Motivated teams are more productive. Motivated families feel more content. Getting and staying motivated is something you need to work on consistently. It is something that you need to work on every day, every week and every month.

Finding your why

Individuals can motivate themselves more effectively by better understanding why they do what they do. They already know the ‘what’ of their role and the ‘how’ they do their jobs but what is their core ‘reason’?

What is really essential is to question the ‘why’ or the ‘reason’ you do what you do. Check out this amazing TED talk by Simon Sinek to find out more.

So, start to inspire yourself by setting your goals in writing (journaling your successes gives you a different relationship with your goals, is easy to do and reaps massive rewards) and remember to reward yourself every time you achieve a goal no matter how small. It makes a difference.

The business of happy teams and families

And remember, this is about your personal life as much as your working life. There’s a growing “Family Inc.” movement at the moment: that is, families that are run like businesses. Bruce Feiler recently wrote about the “business of happy families” in the Wall Street Journal and Patrick Lencioni’s “Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family” explores how many business principles can be brought into the home.

Teams and families can be motivated through inspirational meetings, team building exercises and development, to name just three easy methods. Happy teams and families are more productive and feel more valued. In fact, individuals who feel valued at work give around 18% extra discretionary effort.

Whatever strategy you choose it is not something that you can do once and then forget. It’s something you have to work on every day and every week. Regular meetings, updated business plans and goals  (yes, even with your family) will help to keep you on track and identify where further motivation is needed.

What can you do now to improve your and your team or family’s motivation levels today?

Recommended reading:

Change ONE thing in your relationship today. If what you’re doing isn’t working, do anything else at all.

The importance of positive people. Why it’s time to do a friend inventory.

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How to Lose Your Baggage and Lighten Up: Thought Hack

Lose baggage and lighten up

What lurks in the shadows? All that stuff we put to the back of the mind to look at sometime later – or perhaps never at all…

Back in the early 90s when I first started my practice the subconscious mind or the unconscious mind as it was often called, was also known as the dark side or the shadow.

What lurks in the shadows? Among many things the shadow houses our memories, perceptions, unresolved issues, and parts of ourselves that we are not too comfortable with.

It’s all that stuff we put to the back of the mind to look at sometime later, or perhaps never at all.

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The Importance Of Positive People (and why negative friends make you unhappy)

No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.”― Alice Walker

No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.”― Alice Walker

Do you surround yourself with “drains” or “radiators”? Positive people who give you energy or negative people who bring you down? Here’s why it’s time to do a “friend inventory”.

The Framingham Heart Study wasn’t set up specifically to study emotions. But with over 5000 inhabitants of Framingham, Massachusetts signed up for the on-going study, scientists have been amassing a wealth of continuous social and medical data since 1948.

It came up with fascinating findings in 2010 that suggest emotions are as infectious as diseases, and (more importantly) that sadness is more infectious than happiness.

They found that having a happy friend increased an individual’s chances of personal happiness by 11 percent, while just one sad friend was needed to double an individual’s chance of becoming unhappy.

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Are You A Space Cadet? Why It’s Time To Wake Up!

Zoning Out - Are You A Space Cadet? Why It's Time To Wake Up! - The Stresshacker Sue Smith

Have you ever missed your train, your stop, your appointment? Do you find time passes and you don’t know where it went? Are you spacing out?

Where and when did you learn to do that?

By the sheer nature of the fact that as children we spend a lot of time being told what to do – and when and how – we have internalised that ‘parent’ part that even today may nag, criticise or even bully us to do certain things.  But it also may be that as a child you were left to your own devices for hours on end with very few boundaries or guidelines. In that case, your parent part might be vacant or spaced out with little input.

To know and understand your parent part you will need to spend some time remembering analysing and recalling your early messages. I explore this in more depth in my book, I Just Want To be Happy.

Zoning out can be a way of coping

Your inner child part is very much determined by your parent part. For example, if you were nagged, told off a lot or – worse – bullied or abused, how did you deal with that? One way that children ‘cope’ is to dissociate, disappear, take off and ‘space out’. I remember doing this as a child in a maths lesson, I was bored and disinterested and spent most of my time in the clouds floating about. Needless to say this in turn got me into more trouble!

So what is spacing out? Clients have often described it as that lovely timeless feeling: you’re there but not there. You have that sensation of drifting in thoughts, like bubbles, smoke, or like feathers or leaves floating away.

But now it’s time to zone back in

Now this is all very nice and perhaps a great way for us to cope as children, but is it useful as an adult? Probably not. When yet another day has passed and you haven’t delivered the goods, met the deadline, painted the bedroom. When you’ve missed the stop for the fourth time this week, or been late to pick the kids up. Well, it’s just not serving you any longer is it.

It’s a bit like an out-of-date program left running on a computer: it’s just taking up unnecessary space that could be used for something better.

So how do you stop spacing out?

Grounding. Grounding. Grounding. Stop taking off and get back into your body. Feel the sensation of your feet in your shoes. If possible be barefooted so you can really “earth”. Instead of getting out of your head, get into your body. You won’t become enlightened if you’re not embodied!

Then start the reprogramming.

The inner dialogue could go something like this, “I am X years old. I can do this!” Be conscious and awake. It will help if you address your inner child directly, giving them some attention by saying something simple like, “I’m just off to a meeting and I don’t need you to come along. Why don’t you stay at home playing and I’ll go off and do the grown up things and see you later.”

It may sound twee (and a bit odd!), but don’t take my word for it – try it yourself. I know it works! You can also address the inner parent by saying to that part, “You know what? Thank you for all the nagging, but STOP IT NOW! I’m X years old and adult and I don’t need your incessant rules. I can do this, so GO AWAY!”

Richard Bandler, originator of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) would say tell that part to “Shut the f*@$ up!”. And it works – that nagging, parental part of you or that childish part of you will quieten down for a while.

We have to expose these parts and make this conscious. You’ll have plenty of time to practise since these parts pipe up time after time.

So, the next time you don’t want to miss your connection on the train, or you need to leave on time, get yourself grounded and make sure your inner Adult is in charge.

Please let me know how any of these activities help you. Comment below.

Also please look at our products and courses in The Stresshacker store to help assist you with your journey.

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Stresshacker Challenge: Change one thing in your relationship today

If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.

What’s the definition of stupidity? Doing the same thing over and over thinking we’ll get a different result. Yet how often do we do this?

If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.

Break the Pattern in your Relationship

If something happens once, well there you go, when it happens twice it could be a co-incidence, but when it happens three times? That’s a pattern. So you might want to change something. Just tweaking it a bit may well give you a more pleasing outcome. A scientist wouldn’t dream of repeating an ineffective process over and over, just to see if it works the 20th time around!

If what you’re doing isn’t working, do anything else at all!

It never ceases to amaze me how people do the same thing over and over in relationships – whether they are new dates, or long term relationships. It’s like running the same route in a maze over and over, hoping the outcome will be different. The same is true of any area of life – work, play and study.

So here’s our challenge

What one thing could you do differently today – right here now – that would make a positive shift in the way you relate to your partner, (child, mother, sister, brother, or whoever)?

We want you to try something really simple to interrupt the pattern. For example, you could change the tone of your voice when you’re next asking them for something.  If he always walks the dog, you do it. If you always meet in the same bar or restaurant, change the venue.  If one of you always pays, let the other one do it.  Try approaching your next interaction with that person from a position of wondering what you can do for them rather than what they can do for you.

Just tweak something – do it differently. Change is liberating.

Give it a go and then leave me a comment to let me know how you get on! I’d be really interested to hear the results. Did anything change?

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Why Your Integrity Matters to Your Self Confidence

Don't Be FlakyDon’t you just hate it when people let you down? When they’re flaky and don’t do what they say they will do? Don’t let that be your reputation!

Integrity is a key factor in helping you get the self-confidence you need to achieve what you want.

You may not be the best in your field (yet) or the most creative, but if people get to know that when you say you will do something or be somewhere, you honour it.  This enhances your reputation. It makes you feel good and the people you work with feel good, because they come to learn that they can trust you: you are dependable and reliable.

People like that, it’s reassuring.

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What Motivates You – Carrot or Stick? Do This Simple Exercise to Find Out

So, what’s your driver. The carrot or the stick. Reward or punishment. There's a very easy trick to working it out

So, what’s your driver.  The carrot or the stick. Reward or punishment. There's a very easy trick to working it out

OK take a moment now, sit down and close your eyes. Just imagine for a moment that you have a deadline you’re struggling to meet. Now imagine that you lack the will power, faith and self-discipline to hit that deadline.

That’s right, you missed the window.

Doesn’t feel good, does it.

Now close your eyes again and take yourself out into the future to that ‘post deadline’ time. Yes, you’re celebrating! Even if it’s only in a minor way: you’re languishing in the bath, or out doing something nice. Maybe you’re just sitting reading a book and relaxing, enjoying the fruits of your labour. What does the scene look like – knowing you hit that deadline?  How great does it feel?

So, Carrot or Stick?

So which one made you feel more motivated? The fear of failure or the promise of success? Be honest with yourself. Pick the one that felt more motivating and work on it.

Motivated by the Stick?

What does it feel like to know that you failed? Literally – be aware of the physical sensations in your body as you imagine this failure. Does it feel heavy, or tight and restricting? What’s happening with your breathing? What does it look like? I imagine it’s quite dark – a gloomy, dull lifeless picture. What does it sound like? Is someone yelling at you? Is it you yelling at you? What are the consequences? How does it affect you financially. What is the cost to your self-esteem? Your future prospects?

Motivated by the Carrot?

Now look again at those images of you celebrating – are they bright, light and buoyant? Brighten them up even more make them bigger and bolder. What do you hear when you have hit the deadline? Is there external praise? Can you hear yourself saying  ‘well done now you can do X!’ Maybe you can even hear applause! Perhaps you can breathe more easily and more deeply because you can relax now. You’ve done it!

Choose Your Driver and Get Motivated

Now you know what motivates you, you can keep working on those mental exercises that will keep driving you forward. Combined with a clear understanding of your goals, time management skills and a bit of work on making sure your “inner adult” is in charge,  you’ll find getting things done a lot easier.

Recommended Reading

Can’t Get Your Work Done? Here’s How To Hit Those Deadlines – Don’t get bogged down by your work-load. Here are some top tips for getting that project done in time.

Stop letting your child rule your life – Tired of beating yourself up for not being as perfect as you want to be? Sounds like you have some parent-child issues to deal with.

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Can’t Get Your Work Done? Here’s How To Hit Those Deadlines

Can't Get Your Work Done? Here's How To Hit Those Deadlines - The Stresshacker - Sue Smith

Are you having trouble hitting deadlines? Do you procrastinate when you should be getting things done? Chances are, no amount of time management tricks will fix this until you deal with the deeper issues holding you back.

This guide will take you through all the emotional reasons why you might be sabotaging your own time-keeping, and includes some practical tips on what to do to get you back into time-management heaven.

Take the following steps and surprise yourself at how quickly you can do it.

Five Simple Steps For Fixing Your Time Management Issues.

Step One: Send Your Inner Child to Bed

Send your Inner Child to Bed - The Stresshacker - Sue Smith
(c) Esperales

First off, it’s important to recognise that you’re making a choice. You can either get this done now in the quickest most efficient way or you can time waste, procrastinate, whine (inwardly or outwardly!) or make a million different excuses.

The reality is nobody cares.

Grow up and get on with it. A bit of mental discipline never hurt anyone.

Bit harsh? Thing is we have an internalised child part. For many of us the child part doesn’t want to work, the child might be fearful of ‘getting it wrong’ so wants to avoid, play or hide. Some people find it stressful even thinking about deadlines and so prefer just to do nothing rather than deal with the worry. If you let that child part of you dictate your behaviour you’ll never hit your deadline.

You are a grown-up! It’s time to remind yourself out loud how old you are. Say to yourself, “C’mon Julie, you are a 36-year-old account director” (obviously, fill in your own name, age and occupation instead!)

Tell that part of you that wants to procrastinate, that it isn’t helpful, that you don’t want it or need it. Tell it to go away and find a different game to play and remind yourself instead of how great you’re going to feel when the task is completed.

This is the most simple step, but by far the most important one. If you do NOTHING else, take this moment to send your child off to play and make it clear to yourself that your adult is in charge. Oh, and you can tell your inner parent to stop beating you up too – that’s not going to help you get things done.

[Related: How to stop Letting Your Inner Child Rule Your Life]

HEALING YOUR INNER CHILD - The Stresshacker - Sue Smith

Pick some carrots

If you’re driven by the carrot it might be good to tell your child part that when the deadline is achieved you can lie in a bath, watch that film, go shopping – or whatever the ‘reward’ is. If you’re a stick person, you’ll need to come up with something that will make it painful if you don’t succeed. Check out the article below which has tips for how you can visualise things to motivate yourself.

[Related: What Motivates You? Carrot or Stick? Do This Simple Exercise to Find Out.]

Step Two: Plan Like an Adult

Take a moment and – with your adult head on – make a plan. I would hate to remind you of that old adage that if you fail to plan you plan to fail, but it is true.

First write a list of the steps involved. Do this by hand, that way you get the feel-good factor of ticking off the completed segments and the sense that you’re nearing the deadline. It will also make you feel adult and efficient.

Give yourself specific instructions, not vague to-dos. For example, if you write “start research by ringing X and ask the following questions” you’re more likely to feel inspired and get the job done than if you write something that feels too vague or over-whelming like “research book”.

Next, think about the deadline. Can you break it down into three parts or four parts? Chunking down into more manageable pieces makes  it much easier to approach.

Another way is to write out everything you have to do to hit your deadline and then 1,2,3, 4, it. The highest priorities are ones, the next are twos and so on. Stick to the plan, get on and do the ones first.

Plan your space

As part of your planning,  get everything you need in one place. You don’t need any distractions. If you have to keep getting up and down to get things, you run the risk that the child part might interfere and then you’ll wander off down the procrastination road again.

Less is more. Once you have everything put it into neat piles, on another desk or on the floor. Only have on your desk/table the things you need to complete the first stage of the assignment. Clear the clutter away, it’s distracting and you need every bit of help to stay focused. Don’t use that as an excuse to spend the next three hours re-organising your office, however. Limit your clean up time to 15 minutes. If you need a glass of water or a cup of tea get it now.

Plan your breaks

Do you know yourself? If you know that you will work better with a couple of breaks, schedule the breaks in on your list above. Other than a toilet break, stick to those breaks on your list and time them. I suggest 10 minutes is long enough to make a drink, look out of the window etc. Then it’s back to work. AVOID LOOKING AT YOUR PHONE! This is likely to be the biggest temptation and the strongest hook. Be disciplined, wait until you’ve hit your deadline.

Step Three: Make Your Workspace a Happy Place

Make your Workspace Bright - The Stresshacker - Sue Smith
(c) JD Hancock

If you’re feeling lethargic place some lemon oil somewhere in the room. Apparently, the Japanese pipe this smell through the air- conditioning in their offices as it is believed to stimulate mental clarity. A recent study also suggests it enhances your mood.

Put something brightly coloured near your work station. This might just keep the creativity flowing.  I tried using a multi-coloured feather duster. I was amazed – it worked (and, let’s be honest, I would never use it to dust)! According to a study by the University of British Colombia, red in your workspace improves your attention to detail, while blue makes you more creative. (Further reading: Color in Office Environments [pdf]).

Be nice

If you’re still feeling uninspired and uncreative step back and observe your thoughts for a moment. Are they helpful and supportive or negative and sabotaging? The most important things we ever hear are the things we say to ourselves. If you’re feeding yourself messages like, “I should never have taken this on, I can’t do it, It’s too difficult” what kind of a reaction would you expect?  It’s far better to say to yourself  “I can do this, I can do this, I can do this”.

Did you know that your unconscious mind has a massive storage capacity? Many believe it contains a record of every bit of information you have ever picked up from the moment of your birth. It’s where a hidden cache of information, memories, skills and talents reside. Use it. Ask your unconscious mind good quality questions in order to get good quality responses. So instead of , “I wish I’d never taken on this assignment, I’ll never do it in time,” say to yourself, “how can I get this assignment finished in record time?” You will be amazed and impressed with the solutions that begin to filter through.

Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.

The interesting thing is that whatever we believe becomes our reality. I’m going to say that again because it is so important.

Whatever we believe becomes our reality.

Successful people don’t wonder whether they will meet their deadlines, they know they will. Do you know why? Because they don’t entertain the idea of failure, it doesn’t enter their world. Successful people believe they will succeed.

To meet your deadline have the absolute total conviction that you can and will do it. When you have strong positive beliefs they strengthen your determination which then fosters your will power.  Your will power supports a good sense of self and so your confidence grows.  It’s an analeptic circle: in time you develop strong faith and a pride in yourself because you know you can achieve what you set out to achieve.

Step Four: Be Disciplined

Work steadily and allow yourself to get in the flow. You’ll be amazed at how good you’ll feel as you begin to reach your deadlines more quickly.

Modern psychology, NLP, attributes the smooth running of successful businesses to the placement of good systems. Once you have a good system in place it runs on its own with very little need for maintenance. Getting up, going to the toilet, having a shower, cleaning your teeth, in that order, constitutes a system. After a while you haven’t got to think about it, that’s just the way you do it.  It works!

In exactly the same way, once you have your way of hitting your deadlines in place, you won’t have to think about it. It becomes automatic. Having your systems in place leaves space for the creativity often required for the work and time for having more fun.

Step Five: Leave a Buffer

Leave Yourself Extra Time
(c) Rofi

Leave yourself a little longer than you think you will need, especially the first time you set up this system.

At this point you are training yourself. Aim to get more done in less time. Set yourself chunks of time throughout the assignment and work conscientiously. Set the alarm on your phone and work consistently until the time you’ve allocated yourself is up. Then take your break.

Imagine you are the Managing Director of your company.

You are setting a good example to your other employees. Remind yourself periodically of Step 1 – you are not a child! Get on with it!

Part of developing this self-discipline is to get hold of your brain and gain mastery of it. The nature of the mind is unruly. It wants to be constantly on the move darting into the future – “what shall I get for dinner?”, “I wonder what John’s doing” – or flipping back into the past – “I can’t believe he said that”, “I wish I was still sitting in the Alps looking at the blue sky”.

Stop it!

Don’t go there; it’s lazy unstructured thinking and not the thinking we need for hitting those deadlines! Get in the now. Be present. Think only about the job in hand. Focus on what it is you want to achieve with this project/deadline.

This is a massive step to maturity, placing your attention on what you want. When you realise that you can concentrate your self–confidence takes another flying leap.

Enjoy it!

And do you know what? Look forward to it! Hopefully you are working your dharma: living the life you have chosen or at the very least working in a field that you want to be in. If not, you need to put some time aside and work out what you do want to do. Life’s too short to spend most of it in an occupation that you don’t like or enjoy.  When you are working more from your heart and you have a passion for what you’re doing, it really should be as effortless being.

Recommended Reading:

Stop Letting Your Child Rule Your Life. A more detailed explanation of the Parent/Child/Adult relationship.

What Motivates You? Carrot or Stick? Do This Simple Exercise to Find Out. A simple visual exercise that will help motivate you to hit your deadlines.

Main Image: Myrrh Ahn