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Archive for February, 2010

Super Hero


‘B’ & his cape
Originally uploaded by polkadotandplaid

All of us have super powers hidden within.  Some people just instinctively know that. 🙂

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Post It! by Let Them Eat Celebration Cakes

Making time for yourself is always important, but it’s even more urgent when you are feeling stressed-out, tired, irritated or sad. Many of us are reeling with the overload of bad news.  With high job loss, financial concerns and the pressure of doing more with less, we need to re-learn how to take a break.

When you make yourself the priority it helps you complete things accurately the first time so you don’t have to waste time following up on something you’ve already done.  Recently in the news was information on how a power nap in the afternoon can help you feel more alert and energized, and improve memory as well.  We all know getting enough sleep makes a big difference, but having the experts back you up doesn’t hurt.

We need to know that it’s okay to slow down and say no to things. Whether projects or people, we just don’t have time for everyone and everything.  Stop feeling guilty about it.  Just say “I have an appointment with myself that I have to keep.”  Remember that old line “You can’t please every body all of the time.” It’s true.

A recent article on Web MD shows that more happiness helps your heart. When we are motivated, passionate and excited about things we feel happy. Try to limit those activities that you hate.  Swap chores with your spouse or the kids.  Say no to parties with people you hardly know.  Take a walk by yourself – without the headphones.  You’ll be amazed at all the things you pass by and miss; birds in flight, the multiple shades of green and shape of every leaf, or your neighbor’s cute and cuddly dog.

So how do you plan time for yourself?  Here are a few ideas:

  1. Make a list. Write down a Joy and Pain list.  Add the things you really want to do but don’t have the time for; gardening, painting, going to a concert or getting tickets to a NBA game.  On the other side add the items that you really don’t like, those things you procrastinate on because they bring down your energy.  This will give you a starting point.
  2. Me weekend. Get out your calendar and schedule some time for you.  Don’t limit it to a mere hour or two.  That’s not enough time to fix months or even years of neglect.  Give yourself a whole weekend.  Unplug from the phone, TV, computer and cell phone.  The quiet will give you the peace you’ve been craving, and you’ll be amazed how much you can done without all those distractions.
  3. Organize. Look at the list you made of your Pain activities, those things you just don’t like to do.  Can you pay someone to do them?  Can you trade your brother-in-law babysitting time for him to do your taxes?  What can you get rid of?  Can you set a monthly reminder to text you a reminder to pay bills?  Use time management systems that work for you.
  4. Take breaks. Whether at work or at home, don’t work through break time.  Taking 10-15 every two hours is mandatory to keep you sane.  It helps keep your mind fresher so you can solve problems and get your to-do list done. Taking even 5 minutes every hour to walk around the building, close your eyes or listen to a favorite song is invigorating and relaxing.  Even though it feels like it’s interrupting your concentration, you’ll find that stopping and focusing on something else for a few minutes improves your focus.

So this week, try setting aside more time for yourself.  No one cares about your happiness more than you do. The funny thing is, when you’re happy, your spread joy wherever you go, making those around you happier too.  It’s a great win-win situation.  At the very least it will help diffuse those over reactions we’re all prone to if you feel taken care of and rested.  Try it today and see how it feels.

For more ideas on taking time for you, check out this old article “Break Time: 10 great ideas to help you relax at work.”

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Sick of Winter.

Sick and tired of snow yet?  Is this a case of winter blues?  Seems cabin fever really got to this guy.  Or maybe someone was just really, really, bored.  🙂

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Picture by dezinerfolio

Daily living is hard.  Times are tough.  It’s a fact right now for many of us.  In the face of financial hardships many of us feel anxious, fearful and overwhelmed.  We all want to feel a return of hope, happiness, and most importantly – security.

One of the ways to brings ourselves closer to this goal is to focus on the good things we already have.  It’s so easy to list all the problems in the world, the newspapers and TV remind us every day.  But there are just as many positive things in our lives.

Here is a reminder of just a few of the good things we may overlook:

  • Having a loving spouse. If your spouse makes you laugh, helps with the chores or surprises you with unexpected gifts, consider yourself blessed.
  • Being healthy. Having a headache and feeling tired can add to our strain, but when compared with more serious conditions our complaints fall silent.
  • A nice home. This can mean many things; an organized home, a clean home, a warm and cheerful home or a sanctuary from the outside world.  If your home fulfills any of these you’re lucky.  If it fills them all you can celebrate.
  • Fun things. This could be cable TV, lots of books, dinner out, a movie, music, your pool, game systems like Xbox and PS3, etc.  How about your computer?  Things like Facebook, You Tube and other sites provide lots of entertainment.
  • Nice clothes. When we have plenty of money we may not notice this, but having clothes that are comfortable, in our favorite color or style brings lots of happiness.  Just think how much you enjoy your favorite pair of jeans, sneakers or PJ’s.
  • Your car. Have you given thought to your car lately?  Whether your car is old but dependable, or new and fast, a car that runs well and doesn’t need repairs is something to rejoice over these days.  (Trust me on this; I’m just happy mine hasn’t needed anything in a couple of months!)
  • Adorable pet. A soft cuddly friend who is always waiting for you with a wagging tail can be a real mood lifter on tough days.  Take a minute or two and play with your four-legged friend and you’ll both benefit.
  • Beautiful children. Don’t let stress stop you from enjoying your children.  Before playing with your kids stop and relax for a few minutes.  Let their laughter and silliness lighten your heart and bring a smile to your face.
  • Sunshine and moonlight. Stars sparkling overhead like diamonds on black velvet.  Golden sunlight gleaming on the blue water.  Nature is all around us, beautiful and free.

There’s lots more things to appreciate, but you get the idea.  Time is short.  Days pass by much too quickly.  There is as much joy, fun and happiness as there is misery, but it’s harder to find.  You have to look for it.  Don’t let the good moments pass you by.

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Picture  by netwalker

Lately I’ve been getting stuck over-working.  I don’t mean staying late and getting overtime.  I mean missing break-time, or becoming so immersed in work that I don’t leave my chair for 2 straight hours.

While my boss may like this activity on the surface, it is not beneficial to either me or her.  The simple fact is that most of us do better when we take breaks.  You see this at any pre-school or kindergarten.  Kids are told to take a break to play or rest, or simply to change from math and numbers to art and drawing.

This change of pace helps our mind learn better, and improves our concentration and focus.  You’ll notice this whenever you say to yourself “I’m really stuck on this project, I’m going to wait until to tomorrow to do this to get a fresh perspective.”  The next day, after a full night’s rest, you look at the problem again and suddenly see a solution where you thought there where none.

So how can you make the most of your mini-breaks?  One way is to vary the type of activity to your mood and energy level.  If you are feeling ill, you may want to skip the walk and just take a quiet 2 minutes to close your eyes and take a couple of refreshing deep breathes.

Here are a few mini-break ideas to get you started:

  1. Walk around the building. This is an often over-looked break.  When you are stressed-out, frustrated or simply tired, this is a great way to loosen up and unwind.   It helps un-kink your back, neck and shoulders.  The physical activity your blood moving and the effects can help aid your concentration for the next 2 hours or more.   And even if it’s cloudy the light is better outside than those harsh fluorescent lights.  As an added benefit if it’s a sunny day you will even get some free vitamin D.
  2. Quiet time. This is harder to do than the others, but is highly effective.  Some places to go for quiet are; the empty conference room, your car, an empty park bench outside, a vacant cubicle, and in a pinch, the bathroom stall.  Quiet time is most effective if you can close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths without being disturbed.  You don’t have to be long – even 2 minutes will help, the key is simply some kind of reminder to do it.
  3. Internet break. Many of us are blocked from various Internet sites, but even work-related sites can sometimes be fun.  Look for jokes related to your industry, cartoons, pictures of babies, puppies or other cute animals, or a funny article about your coworkers.  You can find stress-relief articles on health sites, or simply go to a science web site and read about the latest, greatest technical inventions for an interesting change of pace.
  4. Stretch. Raising your hands above your head and reaching your toes 5 times in a row is a wonderful release for tension and muscle pain.  Often we don’t even realize we’re feeling achy until we get up.  And believe me, even if you have to do this at your desk, your body, and most likely your friends will thank you.  Even though you’ll feel exposed and vulnerable, wondering if people are noticing your belly, or your old shoes, you’ll be pleased to find they simply notice the pleasure you’re getting from stretching out your back, and soon enough they’ll be following suit.
  5. Music. Whether you like it loud or love to relax to quiet melodies, music is a great break.  It can invigorate you, especially if you sing along while taking a walk or working out.  You can use it to transport you to a tranquil oasis, where waterfalls quietly gurgle and birds sing in the trees.  Use your MP3 player to its full potential.  Listen at work, while in line, during a long car ride, or for 15 minutes after work.  Look for thing songs that really inspire you.
  6. Humor. Laughter is a great tool for relieving stress.  Keep a joke-a-day calendar, some funny one-liners, or a cartoon book like Peanuts or Dilbert.  Send funny pictures or tell the story about your dog in the snow.  Share your favorite silly commercial, your husband’s baby picture or whatever else strikes your fancy.  The smiles and happy memories will make you feel good and improve your day.

15 quick ideas to help you relax.

Great ways to relax at work.

Relaxify your workspace.

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Dog face!


fun girl
Originally uploaded by saikiishiki

Is there ever a day a cute pooch can’t make you smile?   This pic made me laugh out loud! Love this doggie!

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by simonkoležnik

I know that I’m not alone in feeling grumpy, anxious and out-of-sorts right now.  It’s the depression about the recession, and many of us are suffering from it.  We work silently, eyes glued to our computers, hoping just to be able to come in again the next day.  We turn away from the restaurants, games and places we normally enjoy to save money to pay our ever-rising bills.

So when the jobs are hard to come by, people everywhere are irritable and there seems to be no hope in the near future, what can you do about it?  How can you find motivation to keep going?  What ideas and techniques help you to find some peace in the chaos?  Different things work for different people, but here are a few things that work for me.

  1. Wallow in your self-pity.  (But only for a little while.) Sometimes emotions like sadness and depression bother us because they have not been expressed.  So many of us have family situations where we are stuck in a job we don’t like because of the economy, but we can’t whine about it to our spouse because they don’t even have a job to hate.  This could be a sign we need a little private pity-party.  Whether we rail against fate, pray for a change, journal our frustration or cry alone in the bedroom for an hour or two, it can bring a little relief to simply give in to our pain for a little while.
  2. Sunlight therapy. Believe me, if you’re in one of those rainy or snowy climates, right about now you probably notice the one day a week you get some sun.  So revel in it.  Take a walk outside, preferably with some upbeat music to listen to.  Enjoy how the golden light brightens everything around you.  Stand in direct sunlight for a moment or two and let it warm you through your coat.  And try a few sun substitutes at home – those “true light” and “real light” light bulbs that have more of a white glow rather than the dull yellow glow.  Also you can use a light box, or turn on a salt lamp or colored lights to liven up the colors in your home.
  3. Take your vitamins. I’ve caught myself several times eating unhealthy meals because “I just don’t feel like making anything today.”  Sadness over time can make you feel disinterested in your usual activities, even eating.  If you are feeling tired, having headaches or having more aches and pains than usual, try taking some daily vitamins.  You may just find a little more energy and pep.
  4. Clean up. Sometimes staying busy helps us work through our anxiety and fear.  When we use that nervous energy to make our home clutter-free and beautiful it adds an additional element of joy to our sanctuary from the world.  Remember, even if you can’t control what happens outside your home, you can control what’s within.  As an added bonus you may find a special delight, like say a cool Bugs Bunny watch that you forgot you had because the battery died and you put it away.
  5. Mental break. Take it from one who knows, the more mental time-outs you can fit into your stress-filled day, the better off you will be.  Whether it’s 5 minutes to close your eyes in silence, a music meditation, reading the funnies, or watching those cute puppy videos online, any time you can slow down, relax, or have do something fun is time well spent.   Tranquility is a worthwhile goal to work for.
  6. Compare yourself to others. Most people have problems, some hard, some easy.  One thing you can do is to find someone who had the same or a similar problem and see how they got past it.  You can also look for worst case scenarios – for instance the problems in Haiti come to mind right now.  Certainly none of my current problems are anywhere near that bad.  Sometimes comparison, especially exaggerated comparison can actually make you feel relief.  Lastly, you could find someone with a problem that you can solve.  Helping others lets us recognize our own skills and worth and a hearty thank-you never hurt anyone.
  7. Watch something (or someone) stupid. This is another silly but sometimes effective technique.  The Internet is full of people doing stupid things.  Watching this craziness can help you realize that it’s not some lack of skill on your part causing your problems.  (If you are doing something stupid it may help you see that and put a stop to it.)  Also it could cause excessive laughter which many experts agree helps us find unique solutions where we thought there were none before.  It’s worth a try.
  8. Do something different. When things aren’t going our way or obstacles appear in our path, many of us (including myself) fall back on old patterns of dealing with things.  When we’re feeling depressed it seems like nothing works – including the old things we used to enjoy.  So instead, try something new.  Take a different road to work just to see the view.  Go to a store you’ve never been in.  Join a fossil club, reading club, or go to that Harry Potter convention.  Talk to a new person at work.  Apply for a job you think you can’t get.  Just take an action that is out of the ordinary for you and see what happens.  Remember “if you keep on doing the same thing, you’ll get the same results.”

Of course this list is by no means an answer to everything.  In fact I’ve written others lists like it before.  See here, and here.  And this won’t cure clinical depression.  But for those of us who are feeling more just than the simple blues, these ideas might help us gain a new perspective, fresh solutions or at least a change of pace.  Good luck!

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