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Beat the Post Vacation Slump!

 

Beat the Post Vacation Slump

Beat the Post Vacation Slump

It’s that time of year.  You may have recently returned from a trip, visiting relatives, vacationing with friends or maybe just enjoying a few days off.  However your holidays were spent, I hope they were rejuvenating and enjoyable.  Getting back to the grind can be a challenge.  I’ve certainly experienced it and I know many friends, family and clients have too.  Today I want to talk about how to beat the post vacation slump!

Whether the holidays were filled with fun, laughter and excitement or anxiety, busyness and overwhelm, coming back to a routine may be tough.   Below you’ll find some strategies about how to get back to being at the top of your game in work and in life, in addition to some tips for the next time you go on vacation.

Be Clear 

Personal Life – This is the time for New Year’s Resolutions, woohoo! The truth is that the majority of them don’t stick.  According to some data, only 8% of people accomplish their New Year’s Resolutions.  However, there are many strategies on how to improve the likelihood for change that lasts.  I would argue that part of the reason people don’t accomplish their resolution is that there is not enough clarity around the goal.  In order to get back in work mode and also work towards new goals you have, consider outlining the details in order to build clarity.  This could mean creating a yearlong vision and then working it backwards to a six month goal, a three month goal and eventually an action step you can take today!

Work Life – Meetings often are less productive after many people have been out their routine or away from work.   You may see less productivity in the meetings outside of work too.  To remedy this, set clear expectations for what the meeting will review and accomplish and do not veer away from this objective.  Make sure there are clear action steps for all members of the meetings you attend.

Stay Focused

Personal Life – In order to stay focused on our personal goals and re-engaging in our routines post-break, there needs to be some way to stay motivated.  Build focus through keeping reminders around that are visible and related to your goal.  Alternatively, creating a writing practice that explores the reason for working towards this goal can help to stay motivated and focused.  Also, creating accountability in some way may be helpful in building focus.  Accountability could be created through working through a goal with someone else or hiring a coach to help explore what is holding you back.

Work Life – Lack of focus at work often shows up in the context of getting tasks accomplished or having a productive meeting.  Often times meetings set out with many things to accomplish and by then end have not completed their intended outcome.  Stay focused on what is most important and do not add too much to the meeting, always expect that things may take longer than anticipated.  Have no more than three main objectives per day that are on your “must complete” list.

Action Items, Expectations and Deadlines

Personal Life – Reaching goals is all about combing process and product.  It’s great to read self-help books, follow thought leaders, or engage in philosophical debate about mindset, intention and positivity.   The next step is combing all of this wonderful theory with small steps in the right direction.  Keep in mind that these steps can be small, but should be consistent.  Keeping after deadlines and continuing with actions items after exploring ideas will lead to progress.

Work Life – The same issues exists in the work world when we have meetings or discussions around an idea.  Ideas often need to be translated.  People feel that meetings are a waste of time when there is no clear outcome, objective or “to do” item.  Always be clear about expectations for all attendees.  Have attendees commit to their particular action item as well as deadline so everyone is clear on each person’s objective.

Keep your Routine in Check

Personal Life – Having some kind of routine in your personal life will do wonders for your mood, clarity, energy and productivity.  The holidays are an easy time to get thrown out of a routine, whether is exercise, eating healthy or a daily practice, it’s a challenging time of year to keep up with our best intentions.  Here is a great resource from The Model Health Show about holding onto a good routine, even during the busiest time of year

Work Life – Getting back into a routine is easier to do with work when it isn’t totally avoided during a break. This certainly doesn’t mean you have to be checking email every day or doing work on vacation….that is definitely not recommended.  But keeping sleeping in to a minimum may be helpful when it’s time to get back to work. Also, reading while on vacation may help to keep your mind active and productive so that it may be easier to re-engage when its time.

Push Yourself!

Personal Life – I hold the firm belief that we are much more capable than we often give ourselves credit for, in every sense.  Care to experiment with this idea?  Try pushing yourself past the invisible finish line that you’ve set for yourself.  Go to the extra class, read the extra chapter, do another set, run the extra mile, take the risk in a relationship. Make a consistent effort to go past your comfort zone, you’ll be surprised what you learn.

Work Life – The same concept of going past where we think we are capable of applies to work.  Consider how much you get done in the typical day and see if you can double it.  No, I don’t recommend working 16 hours instead of eight.  Working more efficiently and pushing past some of the self-set boundaries is a better (and healthier) experiment to try.  Consider how much time you spend during the average day being distracted by non-work related issues or work that doesn’t necessarily make you more productive but makes you busier.   Evaluate how to be the most productive version of yourself and push out any limiting beliefs that may have held you back previously regarding how much you could accomplish in a day.

Re-Evaluate

Personal Life – This time of year is a great time for downsizing, clearing out, resetting, cleansing and letting go.  What has been serving you this last year and what no longer helps you to become the best version of yourself?  You can pose this question to any facet of your personal life from your relationships to your diet to how you spend your time.  Evaluating the different aspects of your personal life allows you to set clearer goals and intentions for the year ahead and also helps to come back stronger from time off.

Work Life – Is the job you’re in the one you want to be in? Taking the time to evaluate how much you are really committed to the work you are doing can be a helpful way to not only improve your re-engagement post vacation, but also help you make changes to your current situation.  If you are certain the work you’re in is for you, great!  Take the opportunity to evaluate how you will make this coming year a better one than the previous.  If you determine that your purpose is elsewhere, come up with an exit strategy. Outline your strengths, objectives and timelines.  This will help make the rest of your time in your current position not seem as daunting.

*Challenge of the week*

Pick one of the strategies above and take action!  Just one.  After you’ve experimented for one week, come back and leave a comment below and share what you learned. Let’s help each other make significant changes this year!

All the best,

Michael

 

P.S. If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

You’ll also receive a FREE tip sheet with Five Strategies to Build Motivation!

 

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Productivity, Napping and Dinners at Midnight

 

Productivity, Napping and Dinners at Midnight

Productivity, Napping and Dinners at Midnight

When I was in college I did a summer abroad trip to Spain.  I traveled, learned about a totally unfamiliar culture and learned to speak more Spanish in three months than I had in three years of class. This was one of my favorite memories from college.  There are many stories to tell, but the one that I was recently reminded of is the difference in scheduling there.  The cultural difference is significant and views productivity from a different lens in some areas.   For those that have not been to Spain, a typical day, (at least for a college student in 2004) looked like this –

  1. Wake up at 7am, wake lethargic roommate up, have some light breakfast and start the walk to school. This walk was 1.5 miles one way, a great way to start the day!  School 8am-12pm or so.
  2. Break around noon, walk back to the house, lunch and then Siesta! Siesta translates to ‘rest’ or “nap”, more or less.  This is the time when the majority of activity slows down for a few hours and people just relax or sometimes actually take a nap.  It’s wonderful!
  3. Wake up around 3pm, walk back to school and have class from 4pm – 7pm or so.
  4. The rest of the evenings were spent socializing and often would result in dinner sometimes not until 10pm or later, then more socializing and bed around midnight…..sometimes much later.

Reminiscing this week had me wondering about what this schedule may do to one’s productivity? Here are a few of the pieces I discovered in searching through some data/research –

  • Napping helps you be more alert

According The National Sleep Foundation who references a study done by NASA on sleepy military pilots, it was found that a 40 minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness by 100%.   However, be mindful that the time of day, personal disposition and length of nap may increase or decrease its effectiveness.  It may be best to experiment with napping in order to find the right fit.

Whether it is napping, relaxing, going for a walk or finding some other way to decompress, there is value in taking a break. Having regular breaks in your day can help you to mentally, emotionally and physically re-charge, allowing you to be more effective with your time working.

There is building research available to show that napping can improve long term memory and task performance.

  • Having a mid-day break is controversial

According to an article in the NY Times, there is some mixed research about how productive Spain is based on the schedule of including the daily siesta.  While some research shows productivity is low, other research shows that Spain is more productive than many other European countries.   There is currently some push to move to a more regular schedule, which some of the country already embraces.

So why bring up this idea of the Siesta and productivity?  I think it is an interesting example of how our lifestyle and culture impacts our experience.   Certainly implementing the siesta in our western culture wouldn’t really fit, given the demands and cultural scheduling that we already have in place here.  However, we do have the option of implementing other ways to improve self-care.

One of the most consistent topics that come up with both groups and individuals that I work with, is the idea of a self-care practice.  Practices look different for everyone but common themes include exercise, meditation, time with loved ones or a variety of other hobbies.

There may be some controversy about including a long nap in the middle of the day.  But, there is certainly strong evidence to show that when we take time to take care of ourselves our productivity, relationships, happiness and health improves.    If you are interested in testing this out, consider answering one or both of these questions –

 

What can you commit to for 10 minutes every day for the next two weeks that will help you to slow down, reduce stress or improve your ability to be present?

 

What is one thing you can take out of your life for the next two weeks that you know distracts you?

 

Thanks!

Michael

P.S. If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

You’ll also receive a FREE tip sheet with Five Strategies to Build Motivation!

 

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Expressing Your Anger at Work

 

Expressing Your Anger at Work

Expressing Your Anger at Work

Getting frustrated at work is common.  However, how you express it or don’t, may greatly influence the environment that you’re in, as well as future opportunity.  While expressing your anger at work may be generally frowned upon, there are certainly strategies that will help with this process.  Consider these three tips below when expressing your anger at work.


  1. Timing is important – Remember that when you are anger this may not be the time to resolve an issue. However, coming back to a situation after decompressing and letting the parties involved know how it impacted you will allow you to be a better communicator and express the importance of the situation, improving the likelihood of resolution.
  2. Understand what helps you decompress – Having an understanding of what kinds of strategies are most effective for you in reducing anger is important.  This may be walking, exercise, writing, listening to music or a wide variety of other things.  Taking the time to explore what works best will benefit you in the long run and give you the chance to effectively express and reduce anger instead of letting it become a problem.
  3. Remember the context – This is a very important component. Even though telling someone exactly how you feel may seem like the best idea at the time, the context may suggest otherwise.  Being mindful of how and where you are expressing anger, if at all, may be a very important factor to consider.

The better question to ask may be how to reduce anger in general.  Understanding how to control our feelings may be beneficial in many different environments. Having the ability to respond to events rather than react, may serve us well.  If we know how to control our sense of reactivity then we may respond in a more appropriate way. Understanding ourselves, how we respond/react and triggers that we have, may involve some self-exploration.

Interestingly, the expression of anger may be totally culturally contextual anyway.  In our culture we tend to look at the expression of anger to be generally unfavorable.  In other cultures expression of anger may actually be of health benefit.  In a study by The Association for Psychological Science, they found that expression of anger in Japanese culture was associated with better biological health.  This suggests that anger isn’t necessarily positive or negative but the meaning that it is applied to it may impact the results of its expression.

This idea of exploring our anger to identify what kind of meaning we apply to it may give us another reason for self-exploration.   Certainly the negative or positive consequences of expressing anger are still being studied.  In the meantime, we do know that improving our understanding of self and how we respond and react can have a great impact on our work and home environments.

 

Thanks,

Michael

 

If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

You’ll also receive a FREE tip sheet with Five Strategies to Build Motivation!

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The Influence of Self-Care on Intimate Relationships

The Influence of Self-Care on Intimate Relationships

The Influence of Self-Care on Intimate Relationships

Not too long ago I wrote a post about self-care.  This is an important concept related to managing stress, being effective, increasing productivity and as we learn today, improving intimate relationships.  I recently met a new therapist in Asheville who I am happy to introduce today.  Cindy Norton has an upcoming practice in Asheville, NC and she is already building a wonderful library of content.  I’m happy to have Cindy write for the Path to Synergy Blog about the influence of self-care on intimate relationships.  Thanks for the contribution Cindy!

Self-Care Defined

 So, what exactly is self-care? Well, self-care is defined as any intentional actions you take on behalf of your physical, mental, or emotional health. Many people see self-care as you looking after and taking care of you.

While this assertion is true, your decision on whether or not to engage in regular self-care has an effect on everyone around you including your coworkers, family, friends, and especially your intimate partner.

Intimate relationships tend to suffer the most when one or both partners are not regularly practicing self-care. We tend to take on the moods of those around us; so if you both are tired, run down, and stressed out, your relationship is going to take a hit. During these times when stress takes over, conflict can reign supreme.

Be Pro-Active

Oftentimes, we do not seek out self-care until we are already run down, exhausted, and yearning to get back in balance. Self-care isn’t meant to be something you seek out on occasion when you have already reached your breaking point.

Self-care is meant to be something that you do everyday like brushing your teeth. Does our physical, mental, and emotional well-being not deserve as much attention as our teeth? I think so.

 When we are pro-active in taking care of ourselves we become more rested, patient, and understanding. Additionally, we are much more available to our partners. This allows us to be supportive of one another and have each other’s backs.

When you are in this balanced place you can keep an eye out for when your partner is stressed and encourage them to practice some self-care and vice versa. It’s likely that you may be able to notice (even before your partner does) that they need to take a time out.

Find a gentle way to let your partner know that they seem a little stressed. It’s not going to be helpful if you approach them in a way that makes them feel defensive. Have a discussion with your partner about how they would like to be signaled when they are getting off track with their self-care.

For example, if your partner enjoys walking the dog for self-care, you may say to them: “It looks like Scruffy could use a walk”. Or if you enjoy a bubble bath to relax, maybe your partner’s signal is offering to run a bath for you.

Not The Same For Everyone

Get to know what your partner enjoys and what relaxes them. But keep in mind, your partner’s self-care practices may look different from yours, so don’t judge.

You may enjoy some solitude and want to curl up with a good book, while your partner goes over to a friend’s house to play cards. Both of these are self-care activities, but they look very different.

Finding Balance

Another important element to keep in mind is that taking time for yourself should not be seen as a threat to your relationship. Finding the balance between separateness and togetherness is an essential endeavor for anyone in an intimate relationship.

We need time to ourselves, and the freedom to pursue our own interests. It is healthy to take time away from your partner and allow yourself to miss them. Self-care activities are flexible in that they can be done solo or together. So tailor them to work for your unique relationship.

Jump Start Your Self-Care Practice

Not sure where to get started? Below are some self-care activities that can translate into a better relationship with your partner. Also, see how regular, solo self-care activities can be adapted to include your partner.

  • Journaling A self-care activity that I have always enjoyed is keeping a gratitude journal. It’s very simple. Just write down three things you are grateful for each day. The entries can be something new and novel each day, or they can be repeats for the things you are especially thankful for – such as health and family. You can adapt this activity to include your partner by writing in your journal three things about them that you are grateful for – and then sharing this with them. The entries can include qualities that your partner possesses or specific events that stand out to you. For example, you may write: I am grateful for your patience, I am grateful for you taking care of me while I was sick over the weekend, and I am grateful that you attended a play with me when my friend cancelled last minute (because I know that you do not like the theater).
  • Spending time in nature – I especially enjoy being out in nature. Many people spend time in nature by themselves as a form of self-care. Being one with nature can do wonders for your spirit. If you have a favorite spot with an amazing view, invite your partner along to share in the experience and tell them why this place is so special to you.
  • Go on an adventure – Sometimes it is nice to go adventuring somewhere you have never been, especially when you have no agenda or expectations. This leaves you open to discover things that you wouldn’t normally had you planned the outing. Including your partner in the outing can enhance your relationship. Exploring with your partner, especially in a new and novel way, is an amazing way to strengthen your bond.
  • Taking a bubble bath. It’s hard to beat a nice, warm, relaxing bubble bath after a long day’s work. Many people, myself included, enjoy the solitude and quietness of this activity. It gives you a chance to clear your mind, or catch up on your latest novel. However, by inviting your partner to join in, you both can enjoy the benefits of this very popular self-care activity.  For a funny example of this from the show Friends, see this video – https://youtu.be/VHAQcnB7yis.
  • Nurturing friendships. Taking time to nurture friendships outside of your primary relationship with your partner is extremely important. Set aside one day each week where you both spend time with a friend. I know someone who has reserved every Wednesday after work to spend with her best friend. They go downtown to a wine bar, order some tapas, and fortify their friendship. It’s also nice to nurture the mutual friendships you have. There are many group activities to choose from. I practice this by going to trivia with my partner and our mutual friends.

Up For A Challenge?

Take some time to think about what self-care activities you are already practicing in your life. Do you schedule them regularly? Or are they practiced only sparingly because you feel that you are too busy? Sometimes people have the misconception that they do not have time for self-care.

I’m sure most of you find time in your busy day to spend 20 minutes mindlessly scrolling through your social media feed. Why not use these 20 minutes to take a walk, go for a jog, take a bath, call a friend, or journal?

Or, better yet, I challenge you to take 10 minutes out of your day today and come up with a self-care plan to cover the next two weeks. Make a list of the self-care activities you enjoy, and schedule time for them.

For example, choose a small 10 minute activity to do daily (i.e. journaling) and choose a more time-intensive activity to do once per week (i.e. outing with best friend). When the two weeks are up, evaluate your progress and aim to incorporate the activities that work well for your life and your relationship.

About the Author:

Cindy Norton is the Owner and Writer at AVL Couples Therapy, a new website launching on January 1, 2016 in Asheville, NC featuring the relationship blog entitled Unearth Your Passion.   Before January please see  https://www.facebook.com/AVLCouplesTherapy for updates. Cindy holds a Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is a National Certified Counselor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate.

 

AVL Couples Therapy Logo

AVL Couples Therapy Logo

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Mind-Body Approach to Depression and Anxiety

 

Mind-Body Approach to Depression and Anxiety

Mind-Body Approach to Depression and Anxiety

In my experience in working with individuals dealing with depression and anxiety or both, there has been a consistency I have seen.   I hesitate to use the term “always” but certainly often, taking a mind-body approach to depression and anxiety seems to yield positive results, in my experience.   In my own life I have found this to be true also.  I have always felt better when exploring challenges from multiple lenses.  This is not necessarily surprising that long lasting change would be achieved through tackling multiple components of the human experience.

I’m certainly not alone in this belief either.  According to an article in The Journal of Palliative Medicine, it was found that a multi-modal treatment approach including mindfulness meditation, yoga movement and breathing exercise helped to reduce anxiety and depression in Japanese cancer patients.   In addition, in The Canadian Journal of Psychotherapy there was a study showing the efficacy of using Yoga as a complimentary treatment to psychotherapy in treating depression and anxiety.  These are just a couple of examples of how a mind-body approach can be an effective treatment philosophy.

4 Tips for a Mind-Body Approach to Depression and Anxiety

Mind your body We now have extensive research to show how lifestyle has such a great impact on our body and mind.  When considering how to care for your body and mind, the basic tenants remain – eat whole foods, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep.  If someone is experiencing anxiety and depression these lifestyle factors may be harder to work towards. However, when you follow these principles often times there is symptom reduction.  For more information on nutrition, wellness and some great insight into mindset I recommend – The Model Health Show.

 

Talk to someone – If someone is having a particularly hard time it may be valuable to call a therapist or doctor for consult. If you already have a therapist, there may be value in seeing them more regularly during more challenging times.

 

Have compassion – Be patient and have compassion with yourself. During times of depression and anxiety this may be difficult. Remember that there are resources available to you.  Remaining present, compassionate and patient when working towards reducing symptoms is an important strategy.   One way to exercise compassion is doing an exercise in gratitude.

 

Self-Care – Engaging in some sort of regular practice is very important.  This practice can be different for everyone.  However, usually the focus of the practice is related to self-development.  Self-care could be related to physical fitness, meditation, time with loved ones, reflection, intention or any combination of activities that help to de-stress or remain present.

What mind-body practices have you found to be effective in your life?

Be well!

Michael

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5 Strategies for Effective Boundaries in the Workplace

5 Strategies for Effective Boundaries in the Workplace

5 Strategies for Effective Boundaries in the Workplace

I was recently featured on Livestrong in an article about setting effective boundaries so that you do not become emotionally or even physically drained.  Sometimes not having clear boundaries can do this. Without good boundaries we can feel exhausted.  Since for most of us the majority of our time is spent at work, I wanted to elaborate on how to set effective boundaries in the workplace.

Having clear workplace boundaries not only impacts you, but all those you work with as well.  Having clear boundaries in the workplace helps to improve productivity, decrease stress, helps foster good relationships and improves motivation.   Although setting boundaries is complicated based on the nature of the work and relationship, a study that examined boundary setting in the workplace found that evaluating and setting boundaries did in fact impact relationships.  According to The University of California San Francisco, when boundaries are clear organizations work more efficiently and groups within work more productively.

 

5 strategies for effective boundaries in the workplace

 

  • Responsibility – Having a clear idea of roles and responsibility is crucial in a work environment. If this is unclear, then meeting with co-workers and supervisors may be important for clarification in order to understand who is responsible for what.

 

  • Self-Care Self-care may not seem as obvious when looking at boundary setting. However, this is more of a preventative measure.  It is easy to become unclear about where appropriate boundaries should be when we are run down, stressed out, irritable or overwhelmed.  Having good self-care practices will allow us to not only function at peak level but also remain clearer about where appropriate boundaries should be.

 

  • It’s not Personal – Remaining aware that work relationships may differ from personal relationships is an important perspective to hold. This doesn’t mean that there is not a certain level of familiarity or closeness with those you work with.   Some decisions in a work environment may be out your control.  In addition, there may be decisions that are made that don’t make sense due to components that you be unaware of or are not privileged to know.  Just like in all relationships – learning to not take things personally can be a game changing perspective to hold and a way to reduce stress and anxiety.

 

  • Clear and Friendly Communication – Setting clear boundaries does not mean needing to be dry, cold disconnected from your fellow co-worker. In fact, having a positive friendly attitude can generally impact the environment in a great way.   Remember that there can be a balance between clear boundary and a friendly, positive attitude.

 

  • Be the Leader – In an environment of unclear boundaries there is an opportunity. This opportunity is for someone to establish a leadership role and be a model for how to set clear boundaries of relationship and responsibility.  We always have the option of being in a position of either following the trend or stepping up as a leader, regardless of our position in any environment.

 

How else have you been able to set clear boundaries in the workplace?

Thanks,

Michael

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Meditation for the Individual and Organization

Meditation for the Individual and Organization

Meditation for the Individual and Organization

I have been meditating for some time, with more consistence recently.  I have experienced a wide variety of meditation practices.  Practices from basic breathing exercises to guided meditation to Chi Kung, a Chinese based practice of held posture or soft movements related to energy cultivation.  All of these have found to be valuable in particular ways.  Mostly I practice Chi Kung in addition to daily seated meditation.  See the link to learn more about my daily practice.   However, this post is not about my daily practice.  It’s about why meditation for the individual and organization are both so important.

Recently I came across a device call MUSE: The Brain Sensing Headband™ (affiliate link).  The device is a headband that gives immediate feedback on brain activity through a synced app on your device.  For a detailed account of the process see this link.

Basically, this device works through first calibrating your current brain state (different all the time of course) and sets that stage for how active your brain currently is.  From there you get to pick the length of meditation, from three minutes to one hour, and a scene (rain forest or beach) that is associated with your meditation session.  You get feedback through sound from the scene you choose.  For example, crashing waves when active, soft waves when your brain is calm.  In addition, you hear birds chirping when your brain is particularly calm.

When the session is over you get a detailed report of your session and how calm or active your brain was.   The detailed account is presented in an easy to read graph of the ups and downs of activity during the session.

So the question may still be – what is the point of meditation?  It’s a valid question, with many answers!  Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, depression and even improve productivity.  Please see highlights below –

Meditation for the Individual

Meditation can have an impact on the body, mind and overall well-being.  Below are just some highlights of the impact of meditation on the individual.

  • Impact on Aging – According to a study at UCLA, they concluded that long term meditators had less age related gray matter in the brain.
  • Management of Health Conditions – The Mayo Clinic sites meditation as having a high impact on both emotional well-being as well as helping people to manage symptoms of Asthma, High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease and more.
  • Impact on Depression, Anxiety and Pain – In a meta-analysis last year at John Hopkins, researchers determined that mindfulness meditation practices had a moderate impact on depression, anxiety and pain.
  • Meditation and Self-Control – In a study in 2013 by three universities, it is suggested that meditation training can have an impact on self-control and smoking reduction.

Meditation for the Organization

The impact of meditation on the organization can be significant.  Implementing meditation can have an impact on productivity, absenteeism and even the bottom line!

  • Impact on Absenteeism According to an article by The Harvard Business Review – employees struggling with depression lose an average of 27 days of work per year. If we know that meditation can have an impact on depression, then this could be a way to improve absenteeism and ultimately save the company time and money.
  • Impact on Disability The World Health Organization estimates the depression will be the leading cause of disability by 2020 with heart disease as second. This means high cost to companies that don’t find ways to work towards helping employees reduce and manage such issues.
  • Impact on Healthcare Costs and Productivity Corporate mindfulness programs are on the rise. According to an article by The Atlantic, Aetna states that since instituting its mindfulness program it has saved $2000 per employee in healthcare costs and gained $3000 per employee in productivity costs.
  • Meditation More Common in the Workplace According to an article by The Society for Human Resource Management, meditation and mindfulness programs are being implemented into wellness programs more regularly because of the great benefits associated.

So how does all this great data relate back to MUSE™?  Well, for a few reasons –

Meditation for the Individual and Organization

  • Easy to Understand Feedback – The immediate feedback MUSE™ gives is unique when it comes to meditation. Often times when meditating it is harder to get immediate results, which is why it takes lots of practice. MUSE™ takes practice too, but offers a way to see the direction you are heading.
  • Fun in Competition – Meditation is not generally competitive. However, with integration into a company’s wellness program, using MUSE™ in meditation, could be similar to running a challenge of healthy eating, walking or drinking water. For example, a race to get to 75% relaxation or a meditation for 30 days challenge.
  • Measurable – For those individuals or organizations that want to see progress in a measurable fashion, MUSE™ could be a tool for this. Gathering data over time allows you to see where you started and how far you’ve come.
  • An Introduction to Meditation – If you have never meditated you may have views, opinions or an image in your mind. This device takes some of the mystery out of the practice and allows for a glimpse into what is possible through calming your mind as well as the relationship between your mind and body.  Any way to connect our understanding of how our mind impacts other aspects of our health, is a great opportunity for growth and development.

How have you found meditation to be helpful in your life or workplace?

Please share or comment below.

Thanks!

Michael

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Telling Your Story

Telling Your Story

Telling Your Story

I recently wrote a guest post for The Cheerful Word on what it means to take a deeper look at your life story.  I also just came back from a few days in WI, where I grew up.  This trip had me thinking about my story and what informs my success, experience, challenges, relationships etc.   Since I recently wrote about the power of telling your story, I thought I would take a shot at telling some of my story.

In this post you’ll learn a bit about my background, my family and the Midwest.  If you haven’t been to the Midwest, then you should go.  Yes, I know it’s not on the way to anything.  However, lots of good pockets of entertaining cities as well as beautiful countryside and friendly people.  If you do go, don’t go in the winter time.  The summers are great though.   The picture for this post is actually right down the street from the farm I grew up on.  So, why does this matter for this post?  I am telling this story because I think the lessons are valuable things to highlight regarding personal development and self-improvement.  Since this blog is all about individual and organizational self-improvement, I thought this would be a good fit.

Once a year my grandmother hosts a party “Christmas in July” (actually August this year).   It used to be a Christmas party actually held in December but due to conflict with weather, we moved it.  It’s mostly family and close friends that have been friends with the family for decades, some many decades.  It’s a great chance to reconnect with people I don’t get to see often, but have spent time with for most of my life.

Whenever I go home I also have the opportunity to connect with some of my oldest friends, which is great. Through this process of reconnecting with old friends and family members, I was thinking I have much to be grateful for.  Below are some highlighted areas of gratitude and lessons I appreciate.  My guess is that this will resonate with some of you.

Some of the things I’m grateful for that I was reminded of while back in WI this last weekend –

Work Ethic – Whenever I go back to “the farm” (my family still owns the farm I grew up on) there are endless requests for help.  Although some may argue, this is actually something I’m grateful for.  Having grown up on a farm where there is always something to work on, taught me how to work hard and I think gave me a positive work ethic.  This is a quality that I see as being crucial in all the role models I have had over the years and in those that are truly successful.  Hard work pays off, always.

Humor – My friends and family are hilarious…or at least we think so.  Whenever there is a larger gathering there are usually no dull moments.   Humor can be so helpful in de-stressing, changing perspective or shifting the tone of a day.  I can often get too analytical and serious with things.  I am so grateful for my friends and family, who always put a smile on my face.

Nature – Being in a rural environment just feels more relaxing sometimes.  Even though my family’s farm is filled with work, it is also filled with a sense of relaxation and beauty.  Not being surrounded by commerce, vehicles and constant advertising is a great way to refuel and gather a new sense of energy.   It can be so easy to get swept away with the “to do” lists and constant distraction from media, technology and fast moving pace we set ourselves at.   Being closer to nature often allows me to take a step back, take a deep breath and remain grounded.

These are a just a few pieces of my story that I am grateful for.

What lessons or pieces of gratitude do you have from your story?

Share or comment below.

Thanks,

Michael

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The 100 Day Intention Experiment – Part 2

The 100 Day Intention Experiment Part 2

The 100 Day Intention Experiment Part 2

I recently finished an experiment on intention that I had started about three months ago.  My intention was to complete 100 days of a regular morning routine.  To see some details read The 100 Day Intention Experiment – Part 1.  I had been in an accident that gave me some new perspective about how focused and present I was being with my time, a great lesson.  Basically, through this 100 day experiment, the idea was to build more intention to the start of my day, in order to positively impact the rest of my day.   I have been starting my day out with different forms of meditation and exercise and then writing.

I wanted to write a reflection of this experience since as I suspected, it was great!  At this point it’s hard to imagine not going through this routine, as I have come to enjoy it so much.  However, some things will continue to evolve and change, as they should.  I have already started another 100 day challenge but am setting specific goals for exercise, business, and personal development.

I recently read my last 100 daily entries of journaling and noticed some themes come up.  Some of these ideas stood out and I thought I would highlight them, as they may be valuable to other people too.

Lessons from 100 Day Intention Experiment 

  • The importance of gratitude – I recently wrote a post about this, but in summary – when I am feeling stuck or irritated I can remind myself of all that I already have as well as the difference between my needs vs wants.
  • Follow through – Being diligent with tasks, keeping focused on my One Thing (which is a book I read recently and worth checking out if you haven’t read it)
  • Patience – I have found that my timeline and how things have been unfolding are a bit different. A great opportunity to practice patience and continue with follow through and direction towards goals.
  • Self-Worth – Through this experiment and refection I am reminded that my self-worth is not dependent on the goals I reach.
  • The importance of sleep – I have noticed that the more I get regular sleep (at least 7.5 hours a night) the more productive, focused and aware I am.
  • Abundance – Thankfully I am in a community were this idea is supported. There is lots of opportunity to look at all the other practitioners in my field as competition. I am reminded though that this is a perception and the truth is that there is plenty of work available for all of us.
  • Remaining present – Having spent more time recently meditating, remaining present has been an important focus. I have noticed that the more I can focus on the now the less stress I experience.
  • Making connections is important – I have surprised by how making connections in the community continues to lead to more opportunity. I believe that speaking about our work and passions with others will bring more opportunity to have these passions and work expressed in our lives.
  • Writing about my dreams has been helpful – I have been finding some interesting insight and themes in my dreams as I have been writing about them daily. Some themes make sense (based on what I’ve been involved with recently) while others have brought me more insight into the ways I interact, think and feel.

How does your daily practice impact you?

Share or comment below [udesign_icon_font name=”fa fa-smile-o”]

Thanks,

Michael

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The Pace of Change

 

The Pace of Change

Maintaining change takes time, and you will probably experience some hiccups along the way.  As you may have heard, change is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.  But what does this mean?  To me it means that to be successful with change there needs to be regular diligent practice over longer periods of time.  This isn’t the only key to maintaining change, but a key component.  Remember that to reach a change of pace you need to understand the pace of change.

I recently entered into a 100 day challenge, which I wrote about a few weeks ago.   This challenge is around being very intentional with my mornings.  This has proved to be an effective strategy in implementing a new change.  I have learned a lot about my strengths and challenges and what things push me back towards old habits.  I have taken an approach of diligence and curiosity though, not embracing failure when things didn’t go the way I expected.  This took some getting used to though.  Today is day 85 and by now my routine feels pretty normal, I’m enjoying it.

Any change in behavior or pattern takes time.  To help drive home the point of maintaining a successful change over time, I’ve created a reminder.  The reminder is to pace yourself.  To help you remember, consider this device –


P.A.C.E.

P – Patience

A – Acceptance

C – Control

E – Empathy


Interestingly, the terms patience, acceptance, control and empathy are all very important should you want to be successful with a change. Let me explain –

Patience – Since we know that change takes time, patience is of the utmost importance.  Often time’s changes are not successful because we don’t practice long enough, or wait out the new pattern long enough for it to truly set in.  Being patient in your process as you create a new way of being will lead you to continue on and not give up prior to completion.

Acceptance – In the midst of a new lifestyle, some days will be great, others not so much.  Accept this.  The fact that you’re having a bad day or that your practice in implementing a change was not as great as yesterdays, does not mean failure.  Some challenges may get in our way when we are in the midst of a change.  It is important to accept what may be out of our control.

Control – Very connected to acceptance, knowing what is in our control and what isn’t, is an important part of the path towards change.  However, the reason I separate acceptance from control is that ultimately we are in control of perception, just not the event that precedes it.  What this means is that when we are faced with challenges, we always get to control our own perception and interpretation towards the situation.  We have the choice to be victims or masters of our challenges.

Empathy – Times of change can be hard.  Having empathy for yourself through the process of change is crucial.  So what does self-empathy mean? It means staying connected to yourself in the process and allowing yourself to make mistakes along the way and knowing that it is ok.   Allowing yourself to make mistakes along the way and not giving up is a recipe for long lasting change.  For example, there will be times when you plan to implement a change or practice a new behavior and you get set back by old patterns and ways of being. Its ok to have setbacks, just don’t let those setbacks be translated into a quitting mindset.  Having empathy towards yourself will help to increase the likelihood of not giving up at setback and ultimately reaching your goals.

So next time you are facing a change or working through a goal, consider pacing yourself.

Questions to consider

What changes are you working towards?

How can you implement the PACE acronym in making your desired change successful?

What holds you back from taking action?

Please feel free to comment below with any answers to these questions, new ideas or other questions.

Best,

Michael