Back on campus, and back to stress!

So you’ve arrived on campus to begin or continue your undergraduate studies! Perhaps you are a returning graduate student focused on completing your education and moving on with life! There is so much to do, and no time in which to get it done. The first few days can be hectic until you are settled into a routine. And, then what?   Suddenly what appeared to be an easy transition has become a life challenge, and you wonder how you will ever manage the process and get through each day you’re your mind intact.

Sound familiar? That is because college can be a challenging and stressful time for students, both grad and undergrad, and learning how to adapt while creating work/life balance is critical to one’s success and survival. And, it does not stop with work/life; what about academics and social activities? What about sports, family, and more?

I’ve heard students say that college life is like a tightrope; there are so many entities tugging at you for time and attention, and you may be overwhelmed. You have your academic workload, your growing social circle and all their activities, your friends and family back home, career and/or grad school decisions to make, your physical fitness to attain or maintain, work hours, and your spiritual well-being to nurture. Add roommate problems and boyfriend/girlfriend relationship issues, and now you know why you are over your head with concern.

How can you cope? Use these 5 simple tips for finding life balance in college, and begin to deal with the distractions that you would otherwise face:

  • Have realistic goals
  • Develop good study habits
  • Manage your time wisely
  • Try healthy eating
  • Exercise and learn when to say no, and when to let go!

Back on campus and back to stress…make an effort to remain stress-free and on-track this semester!

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Beginnings…your time and mine

Have you ever thought that your life and your time were not your own? I have! And, it was true in so many ways. My life is simplified now, compared to the years between 1992 and 2004, when I worked about 100 hours per week and traveled monthly to countries in Eastern Europe. At that time, I directed the office of international affairs for a large hospital alliance, and 50% of my time was subcontracted to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). My role was to foster international partnerships between U.S. hospitals and their foreign counterparts. I loved the work, I loved the people with whom I interacted, and I loved my job. The hours were extreme, and I found myself in a constant state of catching up that left me always tired. Now, with a self-imposed work week of 40 hours, I feel I have dramatically simplified my life. I have time to work, write, teach, be with family, and give back to society. I have simplified my life by keeping up with less, not more.

I’ve taken lessons learned in less developed countries to heart as I have simplified my life. In my travels, I witnessed firsthand how simple life can be. Immediately following the earthquake in Yerevan, Armenia, on December 7, 1988, the only decent housing was in a former government hotel. Although the hotel offered neither heat nor hot water, I had a roof over my head and a clean bed. When there was no food in the hospital, our hosts offered bread. We ate it with an appreciation for what we had. With neither heat nor hot water, we made do. Our colleagues lacked so much, but their refinement of spirit and passion for their work were unsurpassed. They lived a simple life and yet a life of gratitude.

Now, as I visit that same part of the world and see the progress that has been made, I am sometimes saddened by the fact that my friends are now living more complex lives, just as I once did. They too are burning the candle at both ends; they too are dealing with carpools, school-aged kids, aging parents, and work/life balance. Call it progress…I do not!

Negotiating for balance

 

Tired – overworked – emotionally and physically drained?  Are your aging parents challenged, or is your young child ill?  Is your partner out of work, or overworked? If any of these scenarios describe you, you may be in need of balance. If you know your skills, abilities, and performance record are strong and valued, you have a solid footing for negotiating flexible work arrangements.

What is negotiation? Practically, it’s making the other person an offer or proposal that he or she may find more attractive than the next best alternative. Some consider negotiation to be the art of making deals. It is certainly that, but it also involves educating the other party about merits of your offer or proposal or talents, skills, and actual and potential contributions. Negotiation is a key component of creating workplace balance and thus avoiding burnout. To negotiate successfully, you must do some advance planning. The process is simple, but each step is critical to the outcome.

  1. Be prepared. Follow the tips and understand the rationale; know what you want and understand what the other party wants.
  2. Open with your case; this demonstrates confidence. Then, listen actively.
  3. Support your case with facts.
  4. Explore areas of agreement and disagreement, and seek understanding and possibilities.
  5. Indicate your readiness to work together.
  6. Know your options.
  7. Advance to closure by confirming the details.
  8. Make it happen!
Tip Rationale
Know what you are willing to accept and be honest about your requirements You will be empowered in support of your interests.

Your listener will recognize your confidence level.

Do not disclose what you are willing to accept in terms of salary or conditions.  Have a deal-breaker in mind, i.e., lack of flexibility in hours. This will compromise your negotiating power.
Determine what the other party is willing to accept. It is better to know the alternatives up-front than to second-guess.
Be an active listener, like a student. Assume there are things about the situation that you don’t understand.

Let the other party know that you have heard and understood what has been said.

Make the art of negotiation your key to balance!

Why B is for Balance…connecting the dots

From infusion to evolution: I am often asked how I could write infusion therapy textbooks for 25 years, and then write about life balance.

How is it possible to shift paradigms so dramatically and connect the dots? I am often asked how I could possibly transition from the world of sick-care and chronic disease to the wonderful world of wellness.  What was the trigger that I was out of balance, and that I needed to do something about it?  And, how, after so many years, could I evolve into a wellness professional and seek balance for myself?

My story could easily be your story.  Working 100+ hours per week, and well aware of the toll that this schedule placed on my own body/mind/family/relationships, I knew that something had to change.  And, it was my global work colleagues who introduced me to the concept of work/life balance.

Picture this.  During the month of August, hospitals in the former Soviet Union traditionally close to allow time for the staff to visit a remote Sanatoria for a 24-day respite.  Who do you know in this country that offers 24 days of vacation time to all employees, regardless of status, and then mandates that they actually take the time for a much-needed rest?  Maternity leave in that part of the world is a minimum of two years, during which your job is held for you!  Who do you know in this country that offers extended parental leave time equal to two years?  If you are like me, no one measures up to those standards.  And while I was not considering parental leave for myself, nor would I ever stay in one place long enough for a 24-day rest, I did start to think about working less and playing more.  I was intrigued by the concept of a life in balance and what that might look like.

Perhaps you have had the same experience…perhaps you realize that your work and home life are intertwined and that there is no longer time for you and those near and dear to you.  Perhaps you have thought, “What if I could take that much-needed vacation, attend that graduation, or just relax?”

The Art of Reinvention: I chose to reinvent myself as a wellness professional with a focus on lifestyle rather than on managing chronic disease and acute illness.  I thought about the words of Harold Whitman, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  I decided to come alive, enjoy life, family, career, and more – and to write about the experience. It’s time to reinvent a new us that will take us through our second adulthood.  I have done it, and so can you. So who are you?  Who do you want to be when you grow up – a question that my kids often ask me?  This time, you get to decide. 

Use these steps to relieve the stressors that are holding you back:

Decide what’s most important in your life: Identify three areas of your life that are most important; for me, the three include (1) health and well-being, (2) family, and (3) professional work.  If health is a priority for you, take the time to achieve it.  Eat well, be well, do well – begin an exercise program, if you have not already done so.

Know your purpose and set goals: Life purpose is what gives meaning to our lives and a reason why we are here on earth. Each individual life has a natural reason for being.  Think about what brings you the greatest joy in your life, and pursue it. To be successful in our lives, we must set goals to discover our purpose and what we want to achieve in the course of our lives. In order to be a goal, it must first be specific and measurable.

How to Seek Help: Successful, balanced professionals are not afraid to ask for help. Everyone needs help from time to time, and reaching out is an admirable skill.  Be acutely aware of the stressors in your schedule and in your life.  Know thyself first!  Manage yourself, and take advantage of counseling, coaches, professional peers, mentors and more.

Working 100+ hours per week, and well aware of the toll that this schedule placed on my own body/mind/family/relationships, I knew that something had to change.  And, it was my global work colleagues who introduced me to the concept of work/life balance.

Picture this.  During the month of August, hospitals in the former Soviet Union traditionally close to allow time for the staff to visit a remote Sanatoria for a 24-day respite.  Who do you know in this country that offers 24 days of vacation time to all employees, regardless of status, and then mandates that they actually take the time for a much-needed rest?  Maternity leave in that part of the world is a minimum of two years, during which your job is held for you!  Who do you know in this country that offers extended parental leave time equal to two years?  If you are like me, no one measures up to those standards.  And while I was not considering parental leave for myself, nor would I ever stay in one place long enough for a 24-day rest, I did start to think about working less and playing more.  I was intrigued by the concept of a life in balance and what that might look like. Perhaps you have had the same experience…perhaps you realize that your work and home life are intertwined and that there is no longer time for you and those near and dear to you.  Perhaps you have thought, “What if I could take that much-needed vacation, attend that graduation, or just relax?”

Know your Limitations: We just do not know how to say ‘no.’ In B is for Balance, I talk about ‘no’ being a complete sentence, and it is okay to learn how to use the word to bring balance to our lives. If something does not fall within your priorities, it is okay to say the magic word, ‘no.’ You must avoid taking on more than you can possibly handle. Negotiate for workplace balance by knowing yourself and your limitations. “No” can be the best time management tool that you have! Knowing my limitations allowed me to transition from the sick-care industry to the Life Balance space. I connect those dots by using my nursing platform to share the wonderful world of wellness – one that is available to you as well, with you live a life in balance.

 

Is a respite center needed in the work environment?

The author has consulted with global organizations to create respite centers within healthcare settings. Today’s work environment mandates providing respite centers in all industries.

A Hospital-Based Respite Center

Stress is overwhelming, and workplace stress has become a ‘given.’  We can overcome that stress by creating an internal respite center whose goal is to provide a safe, calm place in which nurses can regain momentum, renew spirit, and refresh themselves.  I’ve had the privilege of creating such centers in global locations; these are possible amenities:

  1. Comfort
  • Light
  • Air
  • Eye masks for dimming light
  • Healthy snacks
  • Healthy choices
  • Workout area including adjacent paths and exercise room on-site
  • Adjustable heating and ventilation
  • Noise levels controlled
  • Ergometrics
  • Room size approximately 30 x 30
  • 4 comfortable chairs with ottomans or recliners
  1. Amenities
  • Massage tables
  • Filtered water system
  • Control of lighting
  • Dark room as needed
  • Safe setting
  • Lockers
  • Showers nearby
  1. Consistent recognition and rewards for success
  • Attention, praise, and rewards are given for wellness achievements
  • Values placed on wellness
  • Values on lifestyle improvements/enhancements
  • PTO for achieving success
  • Wellness mentors/mentees
  • Peer modeling
  1.  Managers model healthy behaviors
  • Walk the walk and talk the talk
  • Weight management
  • Weight watchers on-site
  • Solidarity
  • Flexibility
  1. Ongoing health promotion
  • Consistency
  • Orientation for new students/staff
  • Participation 100%
  • Health calendar emphasis (national health holidays, i.e., diabetes, vision, heart, cancer)
  • Benefits of good health
  • Ease of access
  • Lifestyle changes

For additional information, contact info@smwgroupllc.com

Life Balance…it is what we do and who we are!

 

SpinCon2016…and stress-less!

I had the privilege of presenting The Wages of Stress to attendees at the SpinCon2016 meeting in Fort Lauderdale on Monday! What an incredible learning audience; these were seasoned professional meeting planners whose jobs exude stress. They were especially interested in the price we pay for stress…the price of relationships, family, job, productivity, sleep, and overall health.

What is the dollar value of your stress, and is it worth it?  Are you sacrificing quality time with family and friends due to work? Are you sacrificing relationships and your own health due to your commitments?  Is your ‘to-do’wages list overwhelming, and can it be converted into a ‘must-do’ list?

Don’t fall victim to stress; don’t let it become a fact of life for you! Don’t lose sleep and become fatigued due to stress.  You will recognize fatigue; the most common effects associated with fatigue are-

  • Sleepiness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Impaired recall
  • Irritability
  • Poor judgment
  • Reduced ability to communicate with others
  • Reduced fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination
  • Reduced visual perception
  • Slower response times

Have I just described you, and how you are feeling?  If yes, seek support…slow down…enjoy life to the fullest, and stress less! Thanks, SpinCon attendees, for the opportunity to share with you; I know that you know the triggers, and how to control them!

The 26 Principles of Life…a tool for balance

Expect it, listen, and allow the universe to bring it in..from B is for Balance

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.”  –   Mahatma Gandhi

We should expect balance, and allow the universe to bring it into our lives…into our being.

My dog, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, had an air of entitlement.  Yes, he did have royal bloodlines and a rich heritage.  And, yes, he was born in Dublin, Ireland and came to the US at age 6 weeks.  And yes, he had been to obedience school and graduated with honors.  But, he expected recognition, he listened, and he allowed the universe, and his masters, to bring it in!

We deserve balance in our lives, and we should expect it…from the universe…into our being.  Some say that there are twenty-six principles of life and that these principles affect our overall being.

26 Principles of Life (http://eidsbox.multiply.com/journal/item/116/26_Principles_of_Life)

  1. All Are Related
  2. The Energy Flow
  3. We Are Beings of Both Spirit and Flesh
  4. No One Entity is Superior to Another
  5. Belief Creates
  6. Intuition
  7. The Higher Purpose
  8. There are No Ordinary Moments
  9. There are No Limits
  10. Action, not Reaction
  11. Positivity Rules
  12. Posture, Pose, and Breathing
  13. Everything in Balance
  14. Intent is Action
  15. Freedom of Choice 
  16. Change Happens 
  17. Taking Responsibility 
  18. One Step at a Time 
  19. Judgment 
  20. Integrity 
  21. Air your Doubts 
  22. Failure 
  23. The Ongoing Journey 
  24. Don’t Mind 
  25. Emotions 
  26. Play 

(Adapted, with permission, from material by Jason Johns http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Jason_Johns for use in B is for Balance)

How will you apply the “Principles” to achieve balance in your own life? Will you expect, and allow, balance?