Sunday, May 31, 2009

Safe to Work

These are just some of the many stats available that show a correlation between stress and how it impacts productivity. "It's just stress." In fact, there is nothing just about stress, as you can see by these numbers.

When people are stressed, their focus is no longer on the work at hand and they become careless. Without good emotional management techniques their ability to be resilient is gradually eroded. This results in flaring tempers, inattention to details and rising costs in terms of health care, safety and productivity.

I recently had the honour of presenting a talk on Stress and Safety for the first year students in the B.C.I.T. Occupational Health and Safety programme. This rigourous course of study has been developed and shaped by department head, Robert Miller. The graduates from this programme are highly coveted for their sound and thorough knowledge of occupational health and safety.

It is evident that Robert cares for his students and this programme by the way he and his students interact and also in his desire to augment his student's learning experiences. A heartfelt thanks to Robert, for inviting me to his class!

Health and Safety programmes are important - improve your "numbers" by treating the cause of stress rather than the symptoms. Provide people with effective tools and techniques that they can implement right in the moment when they are feeling stressed.

Our ability to perform well is greatly impacted by the cascade of 1400 chemical changes that take place during stressful times, so it is important to alter this flow. Over time, the constant stress wears out our nervous system and contributes to ill-health. This comes at a high cost, not only to the employer but to society as a whole.

Change is as simple as harnessing the power of your heart.

Photo: Vangelis Thomaidis

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Word From Our Sponsor...

Any Canadian of a certain age will remember these 1 minute commercials that aired on CBC television.

The music and the tone of voice instantly transports me back to our large living room where you see the ivy edging along the three walls and our black and white t.v. with the rabbit ears. There I am, sitting on that nobbly green couch watching some of my favourite shows while having an after-school snack of Puffed Wheat Squares. Since we only had one channel, I often fidgeted through the commercials which included:
See how easy it is to recall these? Repetition (drills) do work!

This has me thinking about our own "commercials" - the ones in which we write the script and star. How often are we running them? Are they "selling" something we really need? Are you able to easily "change the channel?"

Negative thinking creates stress. It is synonymous with that bad commercial that is continually playing. Over time, you have no trouble recalling the words of this particular's almost as if you go looking for that word from your "sponsor" (you).

Be aware of how often the ad is playing and just what it is selling. Things like:
  • I'm so stupid, ugly, fat, bad....
  • How could I have done that, again?
  • I'm afraid to make a mistake.
  • I'll never get this!
These types of thoughts create stress within the body - a cascade of 1400 chemical changes that wears out our nervous system and sets us up for ill health. It is wasted energy that could be better put to use doing the things you really love to do.

Learn to change the channel and hear these jingles instead:
  • I'm looking forward to the challenge of_________
  • Look at how far I've progressed!
  • I'm satisfied with my work.
  • I really handled that situation well.
When you have less mess with stress you'll be airing a different that makes life worth living.

Now, where is that remote?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

It's ONLY a Paper Cut

What were the circumstances surrounding your last paper cut? Where were you? When did it happen?

I'll bet that you're having trouble recalling this event which was painful at the time. How can such a small thing like a paper cut draw so much attention? Simple. It hurt - whenever you answered the phone, picked up a pen or grabbed hold of the steering wheel.

The paper cut eventually healed and no longer demanded your attention. You resumed using your hands normally instead of favouring your boo boo.

It's often the little things that add up over time that create stress and cause us to get worn out and worn down. Similar to the small paper cut of which you were consciously aware.

A remarkable thing happens when you transform your stress. Instead of focusing on the things that stress you and how to avoid them, paradoxically causing you more stress, your attention gently starts to shift. The negative things that were clamouring for your attention just seem to evaporate as stress-driven issues heal.

You start living your life the way it was meant to be lived; naturally-filled with the things that bring you joy!
  • Do you remember your last paper cut?
  • While you were having fun, did you suddenly stop and think about how painful that paper cut was? (I hope the answer is "No." Why stop when you're enjoying yourself?)
Photo courtesy of Julia Freeman-Woolpert

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mom's Voice

It seems that no matter how old you get, you still want your mother. This is especially true when one is sick, afraid or uncertain or during times of success, when you want to say, "Look ma, see what I did!"

I remember that late one night, near the end of mom's struggles with ovarian cancer, we were called to the hospital. In her medicated state, she called for her mother, who had passed on 3 years before.

This Mother's Day, I want her to know that she is still remembered for her strength and the many lessons that she imparted.

I was honoured to be invited to join a wonderful Master Mind group of intelligent women this past year. I just realized that amongst this group, I hear my mom's Dutch-accented voice.

It includes, but is not limited to, the following voices:
  • encouragement
  • reason
  • empathy
  • humour
  • problem-solving
  • direction
  • generosity
  • support
  • celebration
  • quiet
Each month, just as mom would have done, these "voices" are served up with tasty dishes of good, solid food! Savoury, sweet, bitter, tart...our taste buds have danced to all those tunes.

Thank you to Laurel Ennis, Nancy Glover, Gail McCartney and Kathrin Hardie.

If you are missing your mother this Mother's Day weekend, sit quietly and listen, there is a good chance that your mom is speaking to you through those present in your life.

Remember, too, that her voice (and spirit) are always with you - in your heart and in the way you (and your siblings) do things. Just because you don’t physically see a body, it doesn’t mean she's not there.

Happy Mother's Day to all those who embody the voice of mom! (family, friends and group members)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Forgifting Yourself

Forgiveness. Such a simple word, yet so difficult to do. Or, at least we make it difficult.

I've just finished reading
Staatenlos by Rose Pena. She shares her mother's story without blame & hatred. It is a journey - of family, heritage, discovery and forgiveness. I am so impressed with Rose's courage in sharing this story. She opens the door to allow others who may have been born under similar circumstances to step outside and to take a healing breath of fresh air. What a generous gift to the world!

You can forgive with the brain. The power to heal is in forgiving with the heart. Rose exemplifies what it means to forgive with the heart.

Forgiveness is a gift, to those who need forgiveness, but also to ourselves. When we hold anger or resentment, our heart rhythms are very jagged. The signals that get sent from our heart to the rest of our body are scrambled...the language those signals speak is not one of healing, health and wellness.

When we forgive, we forgift ourselves - we become the biggest benefactor. Our heart rhythms smooth out and our system works efficiently and effectively. When we do the things that bring us joy, we free up our energy which allows us to offer the best of ourselves to the world. What a gift that is.

Earlier this year, I had the realisation that I no longer bore resentment to someone who had gravely hurt me. The anger had simply dissolved. I now have more energy to use on the things that matter. Anger does take up a lot of fuel - it is draining and limits our ability to enjoy our lives.

Opportunities to forgive crop up like weeds in your beautiful garden. "Weeding" them out is an on-going process.
To live in this life means that at some point, we will be wronged and also we will wrong others, justifiably or not. The question is whether we will allow those resentments to harden our heart and impact our lives. Hasn't enough damage been done to yourself and others? Remember to forgive yourself, as well.

I see that the garden of my heart currently needs some "weeding"; the heart is the non-toxic way to dissolve those roots that can wind around and choke the life out of what you do want.
  • What happened when you forgave either yourself or someone else?
  • What resentments do you hold?
  • Has your resentment hurt you and others?
  • Who do you need to forgive?
  • How are you using the power of your heart to "forgift" yourself?
Photographic generosity: Ayhan Yildiz (each day is an opportunity to start a "new" year.)