Thursday, April 26, 2012

Puzzle Perfect?

Image courtesy of Andronicus Riyono.
Have you ever experienced the frustration of working on a jigsaw puzzle, only to discover a piece missing or damaged?

Imagine the world as a giant jigsaw puzzle, and human-beings representing the individual pieces of that puzzle. There’s a catch, though. What if the formation of the puzzle pieces were dependent upon how healthy you were emotionally, mentally and physically? The individuals who looked after themselves would be the puzzle pieces that were well-formed. Those who had work to do in the aforementioned areas would be represented by puzzle pieces that had rough edges and didn’t quite "fit" or were missing altogether.

If you want a healthy, whole planet you need to start with yourself. What do you need to do in order to make your "puzzle piece" (you) fit well or even be in the jigsaw puzzle that is your world?

Think globally, act locally. 
This also applies to healing yourself, your family, your community and so on. Or, as I like to call it, TOTOM - "Theory of the oxygen mask". You've heard the pre-flight instructions, “In the unlikely event of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on before you attend to your children.” 

If you are feeling breathless, weak or tired there is a good chance that you are running out of oxygen, which is no big surprise since one of the physiological changes that occurs during stress is that you begin to chest breathe. Prolonged bouts of chest breathing do not draw in as much oxygen as when you breathe diaphragmatically.

What can you do? 
Eat right, get exercise, ensure you get adequate rest, make time for fun. Things you've heard before and you know. 

Knowledge and Application
These are two very different things. What is getting in the way of the application of your knowledge? An often over-looked factor is stress. Not only does it affect you with very real physiological changes which contribute to a number of illnesses (diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, immune and hormonal dysfunction), it also accelerates aging, diminishes your problem-solving skills, dampens your creativity, and inhibits your ability to relate well to others. In other words, it limits your capacity for joy and could result in either a damaged or missing puzzle piece (you). 

Before reading on . . .
Stop for thirty seconds. How would your life be different if you felt more joyful? What would that mean to you and your friends and family members?

Stress is an inside job.
It is your interpretation of external events that produces internal distortion or strain.

It is your perception of the events and interactions that causes your body to go through fourteen hundred chemical changes. It’s your reaction that
triggers a very real and measurable physiological change in your body that produce side-effects, some of which can last as long as thirteen hours after the stressful event.

Many traditional approaches to stress management rely on "getting away". Remember that some of those stress hormones stay in your body for up to thirteen hours and are cumulative. While you await your appointment, class or vacation to help you de-stress, your body is still responding long after that stressful event.

Other techniques that can be effective are self-monitoring, deep breathing, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, meditation, self-hypnosis, imagery, visualization, affirmations and stress coaching.

Balance your nervous system regardless where you are.
In rush hour traffic, while the kids are arguing or during a sales call. So, until you have time to have a hot bath or go to the spa or for a run, do something good for yourself by learning to activate the power of your heart. In so-doing, you heal yourself and your heartbeat at a time, by acting locally, working from the inside (of your body) out! 

Effect a change globally and complete the jigsaw puzzle that is our world.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It's Gadget Tuesday . . .

You are cordially invited to visit A Rheumful of Tips, where you have the opportunity to participate in a four-part giveaway, courtesy of Starfrit. At the end of the series, one person will walk away with four kitchen gadgets. Be sure to leave a comment on all four posts for four entries.
On Gadget Tuesday Giveaway: A Gripping Tale—er —Tool, you're asked how you like dem tomatoes, or is it tomahtoes?

For those who don't know, A Rheumful of Tips is my year-long daily blogging project where I offer up tips, strategies and occasionally, guests and giveaways, all to help you move through life with rheumatoid arthritis. (Just to be clear, the guests aren't given away! ;) ) Only one-hundred and forty-seven days left to go!

Here's a little secret: There's another great giveaway on Thursday, the 26th of April.

I hope to see you over there!

Friday, April 20, 2012

In the End

Image courtesy of Carsten Schlipf.
One thing I wish I had asked mom, before she passed away from ovarian cancer, was what she felt mattered most in her life. I can guess, but it would only be that...a guess.

Upon your deathbed, which I hope is many years hence, what will matter most to you?
  • How many followers you had on Twitter or Friends on Facebook?
  • That your eyebrows were always plucked and your finger nails manicured?
  • You helped someone "Just because."
  • You did your best.
  • You learned, changed and grew.
One of the many things I love about teaching people how to undress their stress is that once they know and practise the techniques, they begin to live a life that is more in tune with who they are, not who they've become because of stress.

There is a quote of Maya Angelou's that I think needs to come with a caveat, although I understand what she means when she says, "The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them." Stress can and does make people act poorly. When they don't have the skills, when their resilience has been erased, when they are feeling badly, they are not performing well. 

The resolution lies within another quote from Maya Angelou. "I've learned that whenever I decide to do something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision." When you learn to transform your stress through the power of your heart, not only do you make the right decisions, but you also make the decision to act "right".

Finally, to keep things in perspective, here is a link to an article published in The Guardian: The top five regrets of the dying.

Friday, April 13, 2012

President's Precedence Setting

Image courtesy of BSK.
As a leader, you know that your bottom-line can be impacted by stress. When you or your workforce has not be equipped with skills to treat stress when it's occurring, the by-products can include:
  • higher levels of absenteeism
  • dampened creativity
  • low morale
  • lack of presenteeism
  • poor productivity
  • higher safety violations, including violence in the workplace.
Part of your role as a leader is to inspire and encourage, thus bringing out the best in your team. What about bringing out the best in yourself?

I was interviewed for this article which appeared in The Globe and Mail on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012: Boss can break the chain which leads to stress.

As the person in charge, it is important to set a precedent for the type of workplace you wish to develop. The best place to start is with your heart; the place where stress undressing occurs.

The quality of your heart rhythms, smooth or jagged, determine which chemicals the brain produces. When you learn that you can improve those signals with techniques that are do-able in the moment, right when stress is occurring, you are equipped with skills that allow you to undress your stress and enhance your performance.

Could your business or workplace benefit from a visit from Auntie Stress? Please contact me to discuss your Auntie-dote for stress.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Hiding in the No Changing Room

Image courtesy of Jane Cleary.
"She was afraid to come out of the locker," is a line from Itsy Bitsy, Teenie Weenie, Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini.

You may not be hiding in the locker because of your outfit, but how about because of  some other fear or uncertainty?

In the beginning of the year, I was given some very good advice, which I didn't act upon until recently. Part of me thought I was on the right track. Another part was afraid that by implementing the suggestion, it would negatively affect the outcome. Not so.

Sometimes, we fight against good advice, defending a position which no longer serves who we are or where we want to be.

Your thoughts?