Sunday, October 18th, 2015

Your Body Barometer Test

Book_whitebg copy 2Excerpt from Mid-Life Career Rescue

You may have already been feeling stressed before you picked up this book. Perhaps you’ve been unhappy at work for such a long time symptoms of stress, such as feelings of depression, anxiety or even anger, are really entrenched.
Or perhaps the idea of making some changes is causing you to feel anxious. Whatever your current situation there is no doubt that managing stress is a key component of making effective career decisions.
Stress is something we all feel everyday. It isn’t something that only happens when we’re under particular pressure. Some mild stress is good for you. It gives you a feeling of excitement and makes you want to strive to do better. It reminds you you’re alive and can help you thrive.

But too much stress can do the opposite. Stress overload can make you feel overwhelmed and empty, devoid of enthusiasm; or worse, of a reason to live.

Negative thoughts and feelings are a classic sign of too much stress. It’s hard to feel hopeful about the future when you are feeling down, overwhelmed or anxious.

So it’s not surprising that it can even be hard to remember the things that make you happy or to believe in yourself. Your self esteem and confidence can take an awful hit.

Stress can even take its toll when you’re looking forward to making a positive change.

Stress that goes on for too long cumulatively builds up and can make you sick. Biologically we’re incapable of sustaining prolonged levels of stress – if not addressed, our body’s adaptive resources become exhausted. Too much stress can give you chronic headaches, affect your blood pressure, contribute to depression and cause ulcers and heart disease.

Thankfully there are simple but powerful strategies at hand to help you avoid too much bad ‘stress,’ so you don’t become ill, anxious or depressed during the change process.

And who knows, maybe once you have your stress levels back in check, or have found ways to proactively removed the sources of stress in either your work or private life, you may end up falling back  in love with a job that you’d come to hate.

Heed the early warning signs

According to a definition from The Department of  Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), stress is a reaction to the excess pressures we face in our lives, and it arises when we feel we cannot cope. This feeling of not being able to cope is an important point I will come back to, but one of the key things to remember is that worrying you can’t cope, even if it is not actively voiced, triggers the promotion of stress messages in your brain.

You may be so busy trying to juggle everything that you’re not aware of how much strain you’re under. Like Roger, who hates his career so much he says he hates his life. Or Jan, who can’t relax, and is so busy being busy, she can’t remember the last time she felt really joy.

When your life lacks balance this leads to a state of brain chemical imbalance known as – OVERSTRESS. These negative brain messages then flow to other organs in your body sending them into overdrive and a high state of alert.

People who are overstressed complain of being tired but unable to fall asleep or enjoy a restful night’s sleep. They have plagues of aches and pains, lack of energy,  and can’t remember what makes them feel truly happy. They feel depressed, anxious, tearful, snappy and irritable or just unable to cope with life.

Listen to your body barometer

The key to managing stress successfully is to heed the early warning signs. By nipping your stressors in the bud before they start to seed you’ll avoid wreaking havoc with your body, mind and spirit.

You’ll also avoid derailing your career and damaging your relationships. Increasing your coping skills can be a wonder cure for dissatisfaction with your work and/or your life.

How stressed are you?

Take the following body barometer test and highlight any symptoms you’re currently experiencing. Then take a look at the following stress-busting tips and create your own stress management plan at the end of this chapter. Starting from a positive, healthy foundation will help you make changes in your career and life successfully.

 

Your Body Barometer Test

Physical Signs of Stress

• Increased heart rate/Pounding heart

• Sweaty palms

• Elevated blood pressure

• Tightness of the chest, neck, jaw and back muscles

• Headaches

• Diarrhoea/Constipation

• Unable to pass urine or incontinence

• Trembling/Twitching

• Stuttering and other speech difficulties

• Nausea/Vomiting

• Sleep disturbances

• Fatigue

• Being easily startled

• Shallow, rapid breathing

• Dryness of mouth or throat

• Cold hands

• Susceptibility to minor illnesses

• Itching

• Chronic pain

Emotional Signs of Stress

• Tearful

• Impatience

• Frightened

• Moody

• Highs and lows

• Feeling of loss/grief

• Depressed

• Anger

• Irritated

• Short-tempered

Cognitive/Perceptual/Thinking Signs

• Forgetfulness

• Preoccupation

• Errors in judging distance/space

• Reduced creativity/creative thinking

• Lack of concentration

• Diminished productivity

• Lack of attention to detail

• Orientation to the past

• Diminished reaction time

• Clumsiness

• Disorganisation of thought

• Negative self-esteem

• Negative self-statements

• Diminished sense of meaning in life

• Lack of control/Need for too much control

• Negative evaluation of experiences

• Negative thinking

• Pessimism

Behavioural Signs of Stress

• Carelessness/Accident prone

• Under-eating/Over-eating

• Aggressiveness/Fighting/Hostility

• Increased smoking/Starting smoking

• Withdrawal

• Argumentative

• Increased alcohol or drug use

• Listlessness

• Nervous laughter

• Compulsive behaviour

• Impatience/Agitation

Action tasks: Stress-busting and Building Resilience

Whether or not a person experiences stress at work depends upon the person’s perception of what is going on and the person’s coping skills. It is not the circumstance, it is your REACTION to it that counts.~ Dr Al Siebert, Author

 

1) Identify what’s stressing you out – stress is cumulative, and if it is prolonged or we have too much on the go at once our normal coping skills can be diminished.

Making a list of all the things that are worrying you or that stress you out, and then trying to work out solutions is an effective way to get some control over your stress levels. Think possibilities not actualities to unlock creative ways of resolving.

2) Take control – remember it is not the event which is stressful but your reaction. You can beat the stress response by taking control of the things you can influence with events that are foreseeable.

For example, Mary’s boss used to stress her out because he always dumped things on her at the last moment. To reduce her stress levels she decided to proactively manage his diary, and she also called a meeting and told him she would work more effectively if she could have a greater lead time to prepare. He was glad she told him as he had no idea his behaviour affected her in this way.

3) Prepare – identify stressful events in advance, and minimise the stressful situation – e.g., get up earlier to avoid running late, go to interviews for jobs you don’t want so you can practise and be less stressed and more skilled when the interview’s for a job you want.

You can also reduce your stress reactions by doing things that build resilience, i.e., if you know you have a heavy load coming up factor in more self-care activities, improving your diet, having a massage, meditating, relaxing or exercising, are just a few of many ways.

4) Plan your defence – what is the most realistic solution to your current situation? What options do you have? Plan small, realistic steps: don’t try to do everything at once. Choose a few important goals: some things may have to go by the board. Praise yourself when you achieve a goal on the road to success.

5) Try a different view – all the stress experts agree that it the way that we view events that creates stress. In 2013, research by The European Heart Journal found that those who believed stress affected their health ‘a lot’ or ‘extremely’ had a 50% greater risk of suffering a heart attack, even when researchers adjusted for biological, behavioural and psychological risk factors

So if you want to reduce your stress levels you need to change the way you view stress and the things that cause it. It’s the old glass half full or half empty battle! Here’s a few helpful ways to do this:

a) Do a reality check – look at the here and now: will what you are worrying about or stressing over ever happen? Where or what’s your evidence? If it did happen, what would be the worst case scenario? Is that so bad? Will it kill you? Is there a way to minimise the risk of a bad outcome? What can you do in the here-and-now.

b) Self-talk – Thought is energy, so it’s critical to think and talk positive. Compelling research my Dr, Bruce Lipton, a developmental biologist best known for promoting the idea that genes and DNA can be manipulated by a person’s beliefs, reveals that thoughts really do become things. If you want to create a positive outcome you must grow and foster positive beliefs – even if in the short-term you have to fake-it-to-make-it.

Resist saying things you don’t want to make real. Instead of saying, “I can’t cope,” try replacing it with, “I can do this; I’ve handled change before,” or, “I trust myself to be able to handle this.”

To see confirmation of the power of language on your DNA view this clip on YouTube, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWAuc9GivFo) – Dr. Emoto’s, a water researcher from Japan, findings on the energy of thoughts. His water demonstration shows without doubt how your thoughts and intentions shape the physical world.

Positive messages create shiny, diamond-like reflective qualities while negative thoughts create deformed, collapsed structures with black holes and yellow tinged edges. We know this intuitively every time we’re around someone who is negative but many stressed out people don’t realise their negative, complaining, or angry energy is toxic to those around them. As Einstein once said, “everything is energy.”

Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.” ~ Wayne Dyer, Author

I hope you enjoyed this sneak preview – to be in the know when Mid-Life Career Rescue is released please email careerrescue@worklifesolutions.co.nz

Best wishes

Cassandra

P.S. Send me an email if you’d like a free copy of my workbook Stress Busting and Building Resilience.

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Monday, October 12th, 2015

Slay the doubt demons by amplifying the positive

A passion for horses and the big love they shareJust reminding myself to focus on the positive as I finish my revisions  for Mid-life Career Rescue – it’s so easy to get caught in a mindset of ‘not good enough.’

So I’m taking a leaf from the advice I share with my own clients – remind yourself of positive things others tell you when traitorous doubts seep into your consciousness.

My clients, and readers, tell me they value the fact that my advice is gained from both my personal and professional experiences and is both practical and inspirational.

Like Keith, who purchased the first edition of this book, when aged 55 his position was made redundant after 38 years of loyal service.

“The biggest thing I am dealing with is a hit to my self worth,” he wrote to me.

“I am a proponent of the law of attraction and have proved this law many times but that does not stop me having serious doubts about my ability to pull above the ‘mind chatter’. Your book is a great resource for boosting my energy and confidence.

Honestly, your book is a treasure. I have it very useful in terms of information provided and tools available for self awareness and future planning.  This is an awesome book and one I would recommend to anyone looking to change their career, not just mid-lifers.

I feel energised every time I pick it up and I go back and re-read sections I have already read. I thank you for your foresight in writing this book and the energy and enthusiasm you pass on through the book.”

 

I feel really teary as I read this now. And it’s further confirmation to remember to thank those who make a difference in your life, you never know when your own words of gratitude will reach through time and reciprocate the blessing.

Passion, happiness, joy, fulfilment, love – call it what you will but my deepest desire is that this book, Mid-life Career Rescue encourages people like Keith to reach for their dreams, to never settle, to believe in the highest aspirations they have for themselves.

We all have so many gifts, so many talents that the world so desperately needs. We need people who care about what they do, who want to live and work with passion and purpose.

Because what is passion?

Love.

And if you don’t have love…

Well, I’ll let you decide

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PS I hope you LOVE  this image of Georgia whose horses graze in our pastures. Just look at her passion for horses and the big love they share.

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