Categories for Stress management

PRACTICAL STEPS FOR REDUCING YOUR STRESS AT WORK

Part of my job as a psychologist is to observe – observe patterns of behavior, be attune to my own thoughts and feelings, and to derive some potentially helpful information from patterns I see.   I have observed some factors in life that really wear people down – they are not really hidden but are often subtle. Sometimes they are obvious and plain, but people (both the person experiencing the aspect of life as well as those around them) tend to minimize the impact the issue has on their life.   So let me share some of my observations (remember,... Continue reading...

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October 2, 2017 3:49 pm
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How to Ask for Encouragement

How do you know (or find out) what is encouraging to the people with whom you work? The topic of “How do you feel appreciated?” is not a common workplace conversation and this type of question can make individuals feel somewhat uncomfortable. Often, they respond:  “I don’t know. Just tell me ‘thanks’.” But people do tend to think in terms of “encouragement” and “discouragement”. So, the question to ask is: “When you are discouraged, what is something that someone can do or say that would encourage you?” (or, “What has encouraged you in the past?”) But sometimes, we need encouragement. ... Continue reading...

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May 3, 2017 8:00 am
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Trump’s First 100 Days: How Arbitrary Deadlines Create Stress

Much of the news this past week has been focused on President Trump’s first 100 days in office and what accomplishments have been made in that time frame.  On the one hand, setting a deadline to review progress made on goals seems appropriate; on the other hand, this process is a great example of how setting arbitrary deadlines create unnecessary stress in the workplace. For the President (Trump or otherwise), is there anything magical about 100 days?  Not really.  The time period could be 90 days, 3 months, or 101 days — the length of time is not directly related... Continue reading...

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April 28, 2017 5:09 pm
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Are You Burned Out? Symptoms & Steps to Take

I see a lot of “burned out” (or “flaming out”) employees.  People who are emotionally, relationally, and physically worn down.  Responsible individuals (usually in multiple areas of their lives) that have “given all they’ve got” and don’t have much, if anything, left to give. Being “burned out” doesn’t have much to do with what type of work you do.  I have the opportunity to work with a variety of work settings and lots of different types of businesses and burned out employees exist everywhere:  medical settings, schools, law enforcement, insurance companies, long-term care facilities and hospices, financial institutions, mining companies,... Continue reading...

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March 7, 2017 3:02 pm
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What Employees Don’t Like About the Holidays

Some people love the holiday season, while others really don’t. In fact, it seems that a growing number of people make comments like: “I hate the holidays!” (Maybe they are just more vocal about it.) To find out more specifics, last year we sent out a survey to find out what about the holiday season employees don’t like – partly for our own education, but also to see if there were practical ideas that when implemented could reduce employees’ irritation. And there are. Over 1,200 of our readers completed our survey (within 24 hours of it being sent out!) On... Continue reading...

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December 7, 2016 11:00 am
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Revisiting the Meaning of “Vacation”

In the summer months, I often reflect on the idea of “vacation” — what it is, what it means, and often what it has come to mean in our culture. First, vacation means “to vacate” — to leave, to get out of here, to get away from your daily setting and responsibilities.  As my wife has commented, she gets a different perspective on life when she gets away from the daily routine.  Even if you are in a tight financial situation, getting away for a few days to a cheap cabin close-by can be sufficient. Next, vacation implies that you aren’t working.  You... Continue reading...

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August 7, 2016 3:42 pm
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4 Core Conditions for a Successful Life

As a psychologist, I have evaluated over 4,000 individuals – usually with regards to learning difficulties they are experiencing.   In my feedback sessions, I often share with parents the core characteristics that make individuals successful in life. (I define “life success” as becoming an independent functional adult, having healthy relationships, and experiencing a level of happiness and contentment in one’s life.) Why do I talk about these with the parents of students I have evaluated?  Because many times, the students have challenges (such as limited intellectual capacities, severe and multiple learning disorders, severe social or emotional disorders) that will make... Continue reading...

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March 17, 2016 5:18 pm
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Too Much Information — Tips for Managing Information Overload

“TMI”  (“too much information”) is a message teens and young adults sometimes send to their peers — or even their parents.  But usually it is used in the context of  “that is more personal or detailed information about that situation than I ever wanted to know.” As is becoming more and more obvious, however, “too much information” is an issue that is affecting the quality of our lives.  There is no longer any doubt that there is far more information available and being generated than anyone can process. But how we deal with information overload is partially related to our... Continue reading...

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February 17, 2016 7:00 am
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5 Ways to Brighten Someone’s Day

Do you ever wish you could do something meaningful? That you could make the world a better place? Well, you can! One of the easiest ways to make a difference in the world is by taking a small action to help other people feel appreciated, accepted and valued. Here are five ways you can make the world a better place by brightening someone’s world today: #1 Visit Someone. So much of our communication is digital these days. It can make someone’s day to have a real, live, caring person show up just to say hello (without asking for something, like... Continue reading...

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May 6, 2015 11:00 am
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What to Do When You Are Overwhelmed at Work

According to research conducted by Deloitte and reported on Forbes.com, “two-thirds of today’s employees feel ‘overwhelmed.’” Because of the “proliferation of technology,” work-life balance has disappeared and the barriers that traditionally kept work and home separate have broken down. The study identified the following key factors as contributing to feeling overwhelmed at work: • Working too hard (40% of men work more than 50 hours per week) • Distraction/multitasking (i.e., checking phones 150 times per day, literally) • Information overload including: emails, conference calls, meetings and other distractions If you are one of the two-thirds of employees feeling overwhelmed and... Continue reading...

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March 31, 2015 1:05 pm
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Early Peek (Pre-release) of Rising Above a Toxic Workplace

What Makes a Workplace Toxic? Susan, a competent young professional, looked worn and defeated. In talking about her workplace, she told us that bickering, criticism, and lack of support had spread through her organization – a workplace she used to love. Now, she said, “The tension here is so thick I hate going to work. Actually, right now, I hate my life.” In our book, Rising Above a Toxic Workplace, we surveyed hundreds of employees (and leaders) from a wide range of industries and sectors. We then individually interviewed dozens whose stories intrigued us. From our research we discovered the... Continue reading...

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August 20, 2014 9:27 pm
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How to Avoid Holiday Burnout

“The holidays.”  Those two words are packed with memories, fleeting media images and mixed emotional reactions.  The Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year’s holiday season has begun, and if you are like me, with them come a rapid succession of excitement, anticipation, anxiety, wonder, and a sense of tiredness (and I haven’t even done anything yet.) We are planning the extended family Thanksgiving gathering – deciding who is hosting the meal, who will be able to come (and who is going to the “other side” of the family), what favorite recipes people will bring, and what activities will be planned (shopping, playing and watching... Continue reading...

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November 11, 2011 12:40 pm
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Lessons Learned from Media Interviews

In the past two weeks since the launch of Dr. Chapman’s and my book, the 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, I have had over 20 media interviews — radio (mostly), TV, and print.  It has been a fun and interesting experience — and I have more to do in the coming weeks. I thought I would share some of the lessons and observations I have made from these interviews with radio & TV hosts, and magazine writers. Most people understand and agree that appreciation in the workplace is needed and can be extremely impactful. Everyone sees that the... Continue reading...

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August 13, 2011 11:04 am
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Quiet

I have been reflecting on the role of quiet (or the lack of it) in our lives — from two different perspectives. Quiet in our daily life environments. I’m not sure we are aware of how much noise we live with. Not just the ambient noise around us — the air conditioner or heating fan, the hum of the refrigerator, traffic sounds, sirens, the announcements or music at airports, the TV at restaurants, people’s conversations around us — but also the ‘noise’ we bring into our lives. I can be particularly bad about this — turning on the radio and... Continue reading...

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February 20, 2010 8:26 am
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The Opposite(s) of Thanksgiving

We usually think of opposites in terms of a simple, “either-or” relationship — such as light and darkness, large and small, heavy and light. And these opposites exist on a single continuum, with the opposing characteristics being on the ends of the spectrum. But there are some relationships which are more complex, where there is more than one characteristic that can be opposite of another.  For example, in comparing a “good meal” with a bad one, there are different factors that can lead to that judgment. The quality of the basic ingredients, the correct amount of the ingredients, combining the... Continue reading...

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November 21, 2009 3:28 pm
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Subtle Aspects of Life That Wear Us Out

Part of my job as a psychologist is to observe — observe patterns of behavior, be attune to my own thoughts and feelings, and to derive some potentially helpful information form patterns I see. In recent months and weeks, I have observed some factors in life that really wear people down — they are not really hidden but are often subtle. Sometimes they are obvious and plain, but people (both the person experiencing the aspect of life as well as those around them) tend to minimize the impact of the issue on their life. So let me share some of... Continue reading...

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August 2, 2009 8:37 pm
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Characteristics of Healthy Workplace Environments

Recently, the American Psychological Association recognized 14 companies as leaders in creating healthy workplace environments. Besides just helping their employees “feel good” (the ubiquitous reply to anything psychologists do), there are some practical economic benefits for the companies as well: One company has reduced absenteeism by 34 percent The average employee turnover for the top five award winners was 11 percent, in comparison to the national average of 39 percent At these companies, 85 percent of employees reported being satisfied with their jobs, in comparison to only 61 percent nationally And only 5 percent of the employees indicated they intend... Continue reading...

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May 5, 2009 6:55 pm
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The Responsibility of Having Employees — A Huge Emotional Drain on Business Owners

Today’s economic environment is taking a huge emotional toll on business owners and managers.  Given the shrinking economy, with orders for manufacturing being canceled or put on hold, with little happening in the construction industry, and with the general public spending less at the retail level — many businesses are having to either cut back employees hours or let them go altogether. The “hidden” story behind this pattern is the huge emotional strain business owners and managers are experiencing.  And I am hearing from more and more of them each week. One manufacturing executive told me he volunteered to take... Continue reading...

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April 11, 2009 7:25 pm
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Healthy (and Less Healthy) Responses to the Economic Situation

As a psychologist, I naturally find myself observing people’s behavior — their choices, what they are saying, and how they are feeling.  And this is the case now, in the midst of the difficult economic times in which we find ourselves (I am consciously choosing not to use the term “financial crisis”.) There are three core aspects to any situation that involves human perception and response: Reality.  What actually “is” — the facts of the situation. (Using a non-related example: the temperature — which is about 30 degrees F. on a mid March day.) Perceptions. How people perceive, view, and... Continue reading...

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March 12, 2009 10:46 am
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Psychology & Wealth – A Collage of Recent Research

The Dark Side of WealthI have been collecting some articles on psychology and wealth from a variety of journals I receive, and recently there was a group of articles published in the Monitor of Psychology which is published by the American Psychological Association.  I thought I would briefly share some of the information reported. One article in the January 2009 Monitor entitled “Mind over money” was an interview with Dr. Paul Zak who is the founder of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies.  He is the author of a recent book, Moral Markets: The Critical Role of Values in the Economy... Continue reading...

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January 19, 2009 7:30 pm
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Dealing with the Impact of the Economic Downturn

Almost all of us in the United States are now starting to personally experience some aspect of the global and national economic crisis.  Whether it is through a personal or family job loss, friends and extended family members who have been laid off, a slow down in your business, or projected reduced sales for next year — the impact is now personal.  This is different than hearing it on the news or reading statistics in a publication. I resent the frenzy and panic the media seems to want to whip up, because this type of communication doesn’t help anyone.  We... Continue reading...

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December 7, 2008 2:17 pm
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Handling the Stress of Election Night Returns

I just finished traveling from Wichita to San Francisco this Election Day and was reflecting on the stress of prior Election Nights. So I thought I’d give a few suggestions for each of us to manage our stress successfully. Manage your expectations.  Regardless of your political affiliation or views, it is probable that not all of your desired results will happen.  In fact, it is highly likely that you will be disappointed with some of the election results. When this happens, your life (or even your day) probably isn’t ruined. Realize that the world doesn’t revolve around you and want... Continue reading...

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November 4, 2008 11:58 am
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Antidote to Stressful News

Major (repeated) upheaval in the financial markets.  Hurricane Ike.  Flooding across the Midwest.  Concerns about who will be elected President (from both sides). Bombings in Pakistan.  Political turmoil in Bolivia and Venezuela.  The negative, worry-producing news keeps coming. What’s a person to do?  Ignore it?  Stress out?  Drink more? (I heard a news report that beer and wine sales are up significantly in the last 6 months.) Previously, I have written about the role of thankfulness and gratitude in helping us live more contentedly. Rather than pontificate on the subject further, I thought I would share the things in my... Continue reading...

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September 21, 2008 6:45 pm
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Dealing with Being Overwhelmed Successfully (Reprise)

After being on the road for a week in California, I came home fairly tired. As the weekend progressed I seemed to get more tired — both emotionally and physically. And as I started dealing with home-related (e.g. lawn) and family matters, as well as getting caught up on some minor office work and then looking ahead to the beginning of next week, I started feeling emotionally overloaded. So I started taking a personal inventory of what was going on. I thought about my own advice I’ve given previously on different types of tiredness and different types of rest as... Continue reading...

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September 7, 2008 7:04 pm
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How to Create Problems in Your Life: Avoid Conflict

I have observed a common pattern across many areas that I work (and live) — people avoiding dealing with tense or conflictual situations in their relationships with others. And almost always, not dealing with the situation creates additional problems or makes the conflict larger and more intense (often involving more people than were originally involved). And it happens in lots of settings: in family businesses, between family members working together in office settings, between coworkers who can’t get along in marriages, between spouses in extended families, between parents-in-law and their children’s spouse in schools, between teachers and parents of the students... Continue reading...

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July 14, 2008 5:16 am
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What Drives our Busyness?

I took some time off this weekend to “do nothing” — more than usual, at least. So Friday night, I went to a baseball game (to me that is pretty close to doing nothing!) with my family and hung out with some friends. After doing some chores on Saturday, I went fishing for a while (a more correct description would be “beating the water and losing lures”), went to a movie, and then hung out in the nice Spring evening shooting the breeze with some friends. And today, I helped my wife do some gardening, did some reading, and took... Continue reading...

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April 20, 2008 7:19 pm
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Trying to Apply Leadership Principles — Being Prepared, Adjusting to Circumstances & Learning

I write about the principles of leadership that I either observe in successful business owners and managers, or what I read in books and articles on leadership. So it makes sense that I should try to apply these principles, as well. Here I am, waiting in an airport, delayed due to weather in Chicago (where I am hoping to go). So I am trying to apply a couple of principles I frequently hear about — be prepared, and be willing to adjust to life’s circumstances. I have traveled enough over the past several years to know that there is always... Continue reading...

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February 17, 2008 5:32 pm
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What Do You Do When You Are Overwhelmed?

Ok. Confession time. I am feeling overwhelmed. It seems like I have more work (and other life tasks) to do than I have time and mental (or emotional) energy. [I can hear the thoughts now: “Physician (or psychologist), heal thyself!”] Let me explain the reasons for my current condition (from my perspective, that is; my wife will probably have other factors she would add). I believe my “overwhelmedness” is a combination of both: (a) lifestyle, and (b) a convergence of circumstances. On the lifestyle side, I tend to run at a fast pace, pack my days and weeks quite full,... Continue reading...

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January 29, 2008 3:53 pm
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The Healing Power of Music — or Whatever Does it For You

A week ago, I had the privilege of attending a music festival with my son, Daniel.  Although the festival is several days long (and many people go and camp out, playing music all night long), we were only able to go for one long day. For those who are not familiar with it, the Walnut Valley Festival can sound like a small-scale gathering of country hicks — it is located in Winfield, KS, a small community one hour’s drive outside of Wichita, KS.  But the festival has been the home to the national acoustic guitar flat picking championships for 30 years,... Continue reading...

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September 23, 2007 3:59 pm
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Work / Life Balance and the Superball

This week I have been asked to present to my local Chamber of Commerce on “Work / Life Balance”. After thinking about it for a while, I chose to use the Superball as an object lesson. Now for those of you who are young and don’t know much about the Superball, let me fill you in. The Superball was marketed by Wham-O (who also sold Hula hoops in the early 60’s, and the Frisbee in the 70’s). Introduced in the summer of 1965, by that Christmas they had sold 7 million balls (for 98 cents each). What was amazing about... Continue reading...

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September 13, 2007 8:26 am
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