Unsure how to survive the holidays when you are highly sensitive? You’re not alone. The vast majority of people report feeling stressed around the holidays. There a gifts to be purchased, meals to be planned, guests to invite, and the ongoing fight for a few moments of peace and reflection amid the chaos. Those smiling faces on holiday cards are a promise of joy and an omen of stress. However, if you are a highly sensitive person the balance shifts towards ominous.
When you are highly sensitive the holidays can be an overwhelming and overly stressful time – a time that, no matter how early you start your annual countdown, you can’t seem to look forward to with any form of happiness.
If you’re like me, the simple logistics of extending your day a few more hours –during the darkest time of the year- so that you can battle traffic and bump against crowds of other stressed people in busy stores with glaring fluorescent lighting and bad music is enough to set you off the season. Maybe your triggers are more emotional and the thought of spending hours unearthing years worth of emotional baggage and trauma – and then stress eating your way through the dessert table – makes you anxious beyond measure.
Emotional, financial, sensory, or something else – your stress is valid. Struggling with the holidays does not make you a Scrooge, it makes you human. Here are some tips that those of us who consider ourselves to be more sensitive than average use to navigate the holiday season. If you find some of the common approaches to the season a bit more taxing, try these ways to lighten your load.
Set your limits: Chances are by now you actually know what works and what does not work for you. Maybe it is time to simply stop doing the things that do not work for you. Often when confronted with this option people will respond by saying there is some reason that they HAVE TO do what they are doing. I urge you to question this response each and every time you have it. By beginning to set limits and getting rid of the activities that tax you the most, you will be steps closer to enjoying your holidays –and that’s the point right?
Pare down your activities: Too much for anyone is stressful, too much for a sensitive person is an even bigger problem. It is important to pick and choose what you are doing so that you are taking good care of yourself. Yes, it can be hard to say no but in the end less is very likely to be more.
Plan Ahead: Telling your sister on the night of her big holiday party that you can’t make it because you are overstimulated is going to create more of a problem for you than looking at the month in advance and making sure that you have it laid out in a way that will work for you. Another version of planning ahead is doing your shopping early or doing it online to avoid last minute stress.
Adjust the traditions: Who said you needed to do it that way? Perhaps, the way that you have been celebrating is less than ideal for you. Maybe it is time for a change. Even the traditions themselves can be adjusted to suit your sensibilities. If large crowds are a challenge, maybe you can have a small gathering on a non-main day. If a tradition in your family is insensitive to certain members, maybe it is time to try and change that as well.
Take Care of Yourself: Our resiliency goes down when we get run down. It is particularly important to get adequate sleep, eat well, and do all the other things that we know we need to do to take care of ourselves so that we have the physical stamina we need to navigate the holiday season. The more that you can take these important actions, the more smoothly we can expect things to go.
Break the Mold: It needs to be said. If the holidays are a major challenge for you maybe it is time for you to buck the system. Perhaps, it is time to create an entirely new experience around the holidays. If you could imagine a way of celebrating the season that you looked forward to every year, what would it be? Why not try that?
The bottom line is that you are not going to stop being a sensitive person. It is how you are made. So, pushing forward without making adjustments to your holiday plans will keep ending you up in the same pile of problems. Making the changes that honor who you are could leave you looking forward to the holidays. And if you do end up sitting out of a few holiday gatherings, you can always curl up with the latest issue of Conscious Creative Magazine and a hot cocoa. You can’t beat that!
The elusive goal of balance keeps us teetering on a tightrope of insanity as we frantically juggle the plates of our compartmentalized lives.
Balance may be the big buzzword in corporate America, but parceling yourself out in the quest for perfect balance often makes you so worried about the moments you’re missing that you forget how to enjoy the moments you’re actually in.
The problem isn’t lack of balance. It’s that we’ve sub-divided our lives into a series of endless to-dos that hold no meaning for us whatsoever.
The truth is, balance isn’t a strategy; it’s a tactic, and a reactive one at that. And you don’t create success or happiness with tactics. Think about it. Do you know anyone who achieved nirvana by mastering the art of the Franklin Planner?
It’s no coincidence that when people talk about balance they’re usually lamenting their lack of it.
I should spend more time with my kids. I should take more vacations. I should get to the gym more often. I should call my folks. The list is a mile long, and we’re convinced that true happiness will descend upon us when it’s all checked off.
But the real secret of happiness isn’t balance at all; it’s two very simple things: We’re the happiest when we’re connected to others, and we know that what we’re doing with our time makes a difference.
That’s it. Not new cars, not big promotions, not even more sex, the perfect life partner or photogenic kids. It’s been proven time and time again, by everyone from the researchers at Harvard to religious leaders; we human beings need both pleasure and purpose to be happy. And we need to experience them both at the same time.
All the angst around balance is merely masking a larger issue which is lack of purpose and an inability to experience the pleasure of fully engaging in the present moment.
Our culture has perpetuated the myth that our work is over on one side of the equation and fun is on the other, two competing arenas that must be carefully balanced against each other at all times. Spread yourself around in the right proportion, and life will be bliss. But in reality, our challenge isn’t trying to balance out the drudgery with the fun; our challenge is to learn to how enjoy every aspect of our life while we’re actually living it.
Meaningful work – be it parenting, PTA or powering your way to the top of P & G – is the cornerstone of a happy and successful life.
Exhaustion may make you crave more pleasure. However, as the angst ridden botoxed ladies at the country club can attest, you can spend every day of your life at the spa, but unless it’s connected to a larger purpose, at a certain point you’re going to get tired of exfoliating yourself.
On the flip side, you can selflessly spend hours scooping soup for the poor, but until you learn to be fully present and experience the grace while you’re ladling, there won’t be a big serving of joy waiting for you at the bottom of the pot.
We human beings are hard-wired with an innate desire to create meaningful connections while we’re on this planet and to make a contribution that outlasts our stay on it.
Yet, despite the lofty yearnings of our souls. we often get ourselves so mired in our own muck that we’re not fully engaged with the people around us, and we completely miss the potentially larger purpose of our daily grind. There aren’t too many world leaders, kindergarten teachers, or jingle writers who create fabulous results by distractedly going through the motions.
Trying to balance out your priorities by employing superb scheduling tactics will always feel like a rat race if you don’t have a meaningful strategy or goal. If your true objective is to become happy, you’re going to have to spend a little time thinking about what that actually means to you.
Whether you know it or not, you do have purpose on this planet – we all do – and I suspect that much of our angst over balance comes from the gnawing knowledge that we’re not fulfilling it. But before you quit your day job, you should know that you don’t have to create world peace to give yourself a reason to get out of bed. Sometimes your life’s purpose is something as simple, elegant and meaningful as being a great friend or boss.
I have no idea what your purpose is; it took me the better part of 44 years just to start getting an inkling of my own. But I do know that the meaning and joy you get out of your life is in direct proportion to the meaning and joy you put into it.
You can’t make good decisions about where to spend your time until you know how you want to share your heart. Guiltily parceling out bits and pieces of yourself in the name of balance never makes you happy; it just makes you tired. So forget balance. Figure out your purpose, get present in the moment and decide to be happy instead.
reblogged from bnetworking.info
I’m of the mindset that while I may not be the smartest or most talented person in the room, I’ll earn my spot at the table with my impressive work ethic. So, I got in early to my office job, stayed late, worked weekends—all the while obsessively worrying about my performance and my future.
Looking back, it’s obvious that my lifestyle wasn’t sustainable. But back then, I wore my workaholism like a badge of honor. The way I saw it, I had an awesome job and would work as hard as it took to do well.
As time went by, any semblance of a balanced life went out the window. I had no energy or desire to hang out with my friends, I was neglecting my health and I had become disillusioned with my work. There wasn’t one single catalyst—it wasn’t that I stopped liking the kind of work I did, generally speaking. Instead, it was a classic case of burnout: multiple, chronic stressors over an extended period of time left me totally drained and no longer performing at my best. In a few short years, I went from bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to seriously burnt out. Here are signs you could be headed down the same path.
What Exactly Is Burnout?
As it turns out, my story isn’t uncommon; many millennial women are experiencing job burnout before they even turn 30. The American Psychological Association’s David Ballard, PsyD describes job burnout as “an extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their job performance.”
“A lot of burnout really has to do with experiencing chronic stress,” says Dr. Ballard, who is the head of the APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program. “In those situations, the demands being placed on you exceed the resources you have available to deal with the stressors.”
Left unchecked, burnout can wreak havoc on your health, happiness, relationships and job performance. In order to catch burnout and combat it early, it’s important to know what to look out for.
Dr. Ballard let us in on 10 signs you may be experiencing burnout:
A clear sign of burnout is when you feel tired all the time. Exhaustion can be emotional, mental or physical. It’s the sense of not having any energy, of being completely spent.
2. Lack of Motivation
When you don’t feel enthusiastic about anything anymore or you no longer have that internal motivation for your work, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing burnout. Other ways this manifests? It may be harder to get going in the morning and more difficult to drag yourself into work every day.
3. Frustration, Cynicism and Other Negative Emotions
You may feel like what you’re doing doesn’t matter that much anymore, or you may be disillusioned with everything. You might notice that you feel more generally pessimistic than you used to. While everybody experiences some negative emotions from time to time, it’s important to know when these are becoming unusual for you.
4. Cognitive Problems
Burnout and chronic stress may interfere with your ability to pay attention or concentrate. When we’re stressed, our attention narrows to focus on the negative element that we perceive as a threat. In the short term, this helps us deal with the problem at hand, Dr. Ballard says, “but our bodies and brains are designed to handle this in short bursts and then return to normal functioning. When stress becomes chronic, this narrow focus continues for a long time and we have difficulty paying attention to other things.” This “fight or flight” tunnel vision can negatively affect your ability to solve problems or make decisions. You might find that you’re more forgetful and have a harder time remembering things.
5. Slipping Job Performance
Not sure whether you’re burnt out? Compare your job performance now to your performance in previous years. Because burnout tends to happen over an extended period of time, taking this long-term view might reveal whether you’re in a temporary slump or experiencing more chronic burnout.
6. Interpersonal Problems at Home and at Work
This tends to play out in one of two ways: (a) You’re having more conflicts with other people, such as getting into arguments, or (b) you withdraw, talking to your coworkers and family members less. You might find that even when you’re physically there, you’re tuned out.
7. Not Taking Care of Yourself
When suffering from burnout, some people engage in unhealthy coping strategies like drinking too much, smoking, being too sedentary, eating too much junk food, not eating enough or not getting enough sleep. Self-medication is another issue and could include relying on sleeping pills to sleep, drinking more alcohol at the end of the day to de-stress or even drinking more coffee to summon up the energy to drag yourself into work in the morning.
8. Being Preoccupied With Work … When You’re Not at Work
Even though you might not be working at a given moment, if you’re expending mental energy mulling over your job, then your work is interfering with your ability to recover from the stresses of your day. In order to recover, you need time to yourself after the actual task stops … and time when you stop thinking about that task altogether.
9. Generally Decreased Satisfaction
This is the tendency to feel less happy and satisfied with your career and with your home life. You might feel dissatisfied or even stuck when it comes to whatever is going on at home, in the community or with your social activities, Dr. Ballard says.
10. Health Problems
Over a long period of time, serious chronic stress can create real health problems like digestive issues, heart disease, depression and obesity.
And If You Are Experiencing Burnout?
Dr. Ballard let us in on what to do if you recognize the above symptoms in yourself.
Take Relaxation Seriously
Whether you take up meditation, listening to music, reading a book, taking a walk or visiting with friends and family, truly think about what you’ll do to relax, and designate time for it.
Cultivate a Rich Non-Work Life
Find something outside of work that you are passionate about that’s challenging, engaging and really gets you going—whether a hobby, sports or fitness activities or volunteering in the community (along with other items we mention here, like relaxation, being able to “turn off” and participating in rewarding non-work activities).
While communication technology can promote productivity, it can also allow work stressors seep into family time, vacation and social activities. Set boundaries by turning off cell phones at dinner and delegating certain times to check email.
Get Enough Sleep
Research suggests that having fewer than six hours of sleep per night is a major risk factor for burnout, not least because poor sleep can have negative effects on your job performance and productivity. It can lead to fatigue, decrease your motivation, make you more sensitive to stressful events, impair your mental function, leave you more susceptible to errors and make it harder to juggle competing demands. The reverse is true, too: We’ve seen that sleep can actually improve your memory. Recovering from chronic stress and burnout requires removing or reducing the demands on you and replenishing your resources. Sleep is one strategy for replenishing those resources. For inspiration, check out our tips to get better sleep.
Often, when people are burnt out, they spend a lot of time worrying that they’ll forget to do something or that something important is going to slip through the cracks. Get organized, clear your head, put together a to-do list (or an electronic task list) then prioritize. That way, you don’t have to keep thinking about those things because you’ll have systems in place to remind you.
It’s important to tune into the precursors of those conditions, physical signs that you might be under too much stress: more headaches, tight shoulders, a stiff neck or more frequent stomach upset. In terms of mental health, burnout affects depression, and if you’re depressed, that can also affect your level of burnout—it goes both ways. So, if the issues you’re struggling with are really serious and getting worse, you may need to seek professional help. Talk to a psychologist to get help beyond support from just your friends and family members.
Know When It’s You, and When It’s Them
Burnout is sometimes motivated by internal factors, Dr. Ballard says, and sometimes it really is a symptom of external ones. In the first case, you’ll need to ask yourself, “Where is this coming from?” so you can figure out what’s stressing you out, and how to maintain your internal resources to keep yourself motivated, doing your best work and functioning well.
Some burnout really is the fault of work. “In a survey we did in 2011, more than two-thirds of respondents said that their employers had taken steps to cut costs as a result of the recession,” like hiring freezes, layoffs, cutting work hours, rolling back benefits, requiring unpaid days off, increasing hours, etc. All that increases demands on workers,” he says. “Those are the two components that play into burnout: There are more demands and fewer resources.” To find out whether it’s time to move on, figure out whether your position is a “mismatch between your needs and what you’re getting working for that particular organization.”
reblogged from www.forbes.com
Being successful generally does not just happen, it requires taking action. As with many things in life, being focused can greatly increase your odds of achieving an important goal, or goals.
Success is no different. If you want to be successful there are actions you can take to help improve your odds. Here are seven secrets of success you can focus on to greatly increase your chances of being successful.
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Andy Singer is the president of Singer Executive Development, a professional training and development company that helps optimize business performance of employees and executives. They work with companies of all sizes optimizing performance and key skill sets in areas such as sales, marketing and operations. Singer is also on the board of directors for several organizations.
Feeling stressed? Well, its common knowledge that you are not alone. Most of us these days have a high level of stress in our lives which is affecting the way we interact with others. In cases of chronic stress, the frontal lobe of the brain literally shuts down. This makes it virtually impossible for us to do anything besides react.
How do you think this affects your business and your life?
It may seem like that vacation or even day off is more than you can afford but what is the price for not taking time to slow down? We hear a lot about cleansing our bodies to create a healthier happier life but what about our minds and emotions?
How are they continuing to hold us back from what it is that we really want in life because (just like our bodies) they are overfed and under-nurtured?
What I talk to a lot of my clients about are their rhythms. Everyone has a rhythm to the way they live and a part of that needs to be rest and relaxation. For some people that might be on a daily basis. For me, about every 10-12 weeks, I need a chunk of time to myself. When I don’t do this, I am not functioning optimally by week 13 and starting to loose ground by week 15.
Regardless of whether you need time every few hours, every day, every week or every month, finding your rhythm and meeting your need to slow down will ultimately make you more fulfilled as well as more successful.