Friday, December 2, 2011

Balanced for Focus

Self-care on a daily basis is essential to being able to cope with change, especially in the work place.

There are strategies that we can do every day to ensure that we have the energy and the resources to cope with what comes our way. The first one is ensuring that we are eating healthily. The busier people are in the work place, the more apt they are to ignore their lunch breaks, ignore their coffee breaks, and avoid taking time outside to get fresh air. It is very important to ensure you are eating well. Many work places are now ensuring they have water coolers and healthy snacks available for employees at work. If you are a team leader, model the importance of getting away from your desk to take a break and to be eating healthy throughout the day.

A second strategy to ensuring we are practicing self care on a daily basis is proper exercise. One company I worked with actually had summer teams that would play soccer out in the parking lot at lunch, and in the winter, they played street hockey. This was a wonderful way of not just breaking up the day, but reenergizing and staying fit (and building the team). Others have walking groups at lunch time or host an instructed yoga class during one of the breaks or lunchtime. Some even bring in a massage therapist once monthly.

Physical exercise is so important because during stressful times, when we experience the “fight or flight” reaction, our adrenaline is really high. The increased exercise and activity helps to burn off this adrenaline build up. When we are regularly engaged in fitness, it lowers our general stress level. When we are active, we have more energy and mental clarity. Mental clarity is not only important for coping with the stress, but it is important for maintaining healthy work relationships and making strong, sound, appropriate decisions. When we are feeling under the weather, under a lot of stress, and under exercised, often our thoughts become clouded and we feel sluggish. When we ramp up the exercise, we ramp up our energy level. Of course, with that mental clarity, we are focusing better and making decisions that are much more appropriate to the situation.

We need to drink more water and be hydrated, and no, coffee does not count as water. It is a stimulant. A lot of people say, “Well you know coffee is made with water.” Sorry to be the bearer of bad news… the doctor advised that coffee does not classify as a hydrating liquid. Often, when people are under stress, or there is a crisis happening in the work place, people immediately go and fill up their mug with more coffee, or grab a pop from the vending machine. The problem is that both are stimulants. We are trying to calm ourselves down but what we are putting into our body is a stimulant that is increasing the adrenaline.

Not only can these tips help deal with stress better but they can also help you keep focused and become more productive. My Executive Concierge recently learned that having more time is not necessarily what helps you get things done. Admittedly, the situation she found herself in was nothing she had designed but, it did prove to be a great experiment in the end. Due to a surgery she found herself unable to move around a lot for a few weeks. She shared with me that initially she thought this would be a great time to get caught up on some personal goals she had been looking forward to finishing. What actually happened was that, as more time passed the less focus she had and the less that got done. She attributes this directly to the long period of inactivity. As more time went by where she was unable to be active and go out to socialize, engaging her mind and her body, the less focus and energy she had to complete extra tasks and meet her productivity goals. She also confided that, despite the extra rest she has had, she felt more stressed at the end thinking about all those things she had wanted to get done but didn't during her recovery time.

In conflict and in life we need to have the right balance in order to reduce stress, deal effectively with conflict and be productive people. Don't forget to look after yourself!

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