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Archive for the ‘Health and Fitness’ Category

The Power of Boundaries

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

“It felt like I had no choice.” These words were spoken by a successful corporate executive who managed million-dollar high-tech projects, and pioneered new ways of communicating within her organization and for her clients.

She was describing what can happen when we don’t have good boundaries.

CRM    --     452 compressed“I resented feeling like I had to say ‘yes’ to every request, no matter what,” she continued, “I watched colleagues heading out to lunch, going home at a reasonable hour, while feeling like I had to make the client happy at any cost.”

You might think this was an expectation within her corporate culture. It wasn’t. As she came to realize, it was a question of her own boundaries — or lack thereof. (more…)

Stress Busters: Tips for Dealing with the Stress of Leadership

Monday, April 7th, 2014

What can leaders do to better manage stress? Here are a few tips and tools from a team of experts from the Center Leadership Success Trainingfor Creative Leadership: Vidula Bal, Michael Campbell, Joan Gurvis and Sharon McDowell-Larsen.

Know the signals. Learn to pay attention to your body’s response to stress. What triggers a feeling of stress and what are your physiological responses? Do you feel your heart rate going up? Do you get hot? Do you clench your jaw? Get a headache? The sooner you recognize that your body is going into stress, the sooner you can do something to manage it.

Create a ritual. Make it a habit to have a stress break. For example, every 90 minutes get up from your desk and walk around or get out for some fresh air. Do some deep breathing, shoulder shrugs, or just close your eyes for one minute. Taking a mental or physical break is an important strategy for dealing with day-to-day stress. When things are extra stressful, you can rely on these same tactics to get you through.

Get away. Find effective ways to set boundaries between work and home life. Whatever works for you – listening to music on the commute home, turning off the cell phone and email during personal or family time, participating in a social activity or hobby – make time for it and keep your commitment to having a life outside of work.

Focus on fitness. A regular exercise program is the best way to minimize the negative health outcomes associated with the demands of the job. Under stress we build up certain hormones; exercise dissipates some of that. Make a commitment to exercising at least 30 minutes twice a week. Also, incorporate healthy practices such as adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet while reducing added sugars, fat and sodium. (more…)

A Leader’s Best Bet: Exercise

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Regular exercise is the best way to staying healthy during times of stress. Plus, executives who exercise are considered to be more effective leaders than those who don’t.

“We’ve known for years that people gain huge health benefits when they exercise. What is even more interesting from a leadership perspective is that organizations stand to gain when their leaders are physically fit,” says the Center for Creative Leadership’s Sharon McDowell-Larsen. Recent research from CCL shows that regular exercise and effective leadership go hand-in-hand. Leaders who exercise regularly were rated significantly higher by their bosses, peers and direct reports on their leadership effectiveness than the non-exercisers. Time invested in regular exercise, even if it means spending less time at work, is correlated with higher – not lower – ratings of leadership effectiveness. It seems that a healthy lifestyle can help executives to better cope with the stresses and demands of their positions, thus ultimately increasing their leadership effectiveness.

Staying healthy during times of stress requires either reducing the strain or boosting one’s ability to weather its effects. If you can find ways to reduce the external pressures that cause stress and overload, that’s ideal. Meanwhile, improve your mental and physical ability to process stress by establishing a regular exercise program and other healthy habits. The University of Iowa reports that regular exercise not only reduces stress but also can help leaders reduce anxiety, improve sleep and boost immunity from colds and flu. Exercise also helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. (more…)

Stretching Exercises at Your Desk: 12 Simple Tips

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Try these stretching exercises at your desk — or anywhere else — to ease back pain and boost Constant Climb Toward Total Fitness People Walkingenergy.

You may feel awkward doing stretching exercises at your desk. But right now, as you sit there at your computer, you are doing one of the worst things you can do to your body — you’re sitting still. And not only that, but the way you sit — and type, and hold the phone — may be wreaking havoc on your bones, joints, and muscles.

“People who sit at their computers for hours every day — they’re in for serious medical problems,” says Sharon Hame, MD, associate clinical professor at UCLA’s department of orthopedic surgery. “We’re seeing more things than carpal tunnel; those pains go up the arm to the elbow and shoulder and then translate to the neck and back. It’s a huge problem.”

In addition to carpal tunnel and other traditional ergonomic issues, new problems are cropping up, Hame says. “I saw a woman yesterday who had tennis elbow. She got it at work from the way she answered the phone and worked at the computer.” The solution, experts say, is to break up your work by doing stretching exercises at your desk.

Relieve Back Pain With Stretching Exercises at Your Desk
Aches and pains, not to mention the weight gain that can result from hunching over your desk all day, are just the beginning. “People shouldn’t be complacent about moving just because they’re not obese,” says Angela Smith, MD, orthopedic surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and former president of the American College of Sports Medicine. “There are a lot of skinny people who, because they don’t exercise for strength and balance, are osteoporotic fractures waiting to happen.” (more…)

Calming Yourself Down – The Key to Not Making Matters Worse

Monday, September 20th, 2010

On the surface, organizations are about making money, delivering goods and services, and producing results. Scratch the surface of any organization, though, and you uncover a hotbed of emotions: people feeling anxious about performance, angry with co-workers, and misunderstood by management. Leaders are burnt out and workers are buried in resentment. Because many organizations call for unemotional behavior, individual feelings are often suppressed. Workers think their only options are to suck it up or quit.

People want to be productive and happy at work, but instead feel emotionally trapped. We have all had experiences with co-workers who drive us crazy. We get drawn into their personal problems, bad work habits, and irritating behaviors.

These situations drain our souls and harm our organizations, because the strength of an organization is in its employees. When there are problems in the workplace, it will affect the bottom line sooner or later.

What are some of the outcomes or consequences of unhealthy relationships at work?

• Employees don’t enjoy going to work

• People feel overwhelmed or disrespected on the job

• Tardiness, absenteeism, sick leave

• Reduced productivity or work quality

• Mental replay of conversations or interactions; inability to “get over it”

• Fatigue, illness, exhaustion

• Headaches, tension, stress

While handling workplace conflict is a multifaceted process, the first step you should take when you become frustrated – BEFORE you address the other person – is to calm down physically.

It’s a fact that when you are angry or upset, physical activity can often help you calm down and see the situation more objectively. It doesn’t have to be a 30-minute run – any type of physical movement can help you relax and think. Taking a physical break can often defuse your frustration and put you in a better position to think about the situation.

As an example, think about a time when you attended a meeting and something was said that upset you. What was your response? Did you become angry and then “check out” mentally? That’s a coping mechanism, but not one that offers you control. Deep breathing to calm yourself and release a little anger can help you check back into the meeting and respond objectively. Some other ideas for helping you physically calm down before dealing with a workplace conflict:

• Deep breathing

• Walk the hallway

• Step outside and enjoy the weather

• Splash cold water on your face

• Count to ten

Once you have gained control of your body and mind, you can more clearly think about the conflict situation and how to address your concerns with the other person.

Excerpted from the Leader’s Guide to the video program Working With You is Killing Me.

Training Resource: Working With You is Killing Me offers practical advice on how to “unhook” from emotional traps at work and save yourself from needless stress.

You Know You’re Out of Balance When…

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

For all the buzz about balance, why is it that so few people say they have it? What should balance be like? What is the difference between ‘out of balance’ and just plain busy?

“Balance is not about calculating the right equation of time and effort,” says the Center for Creative Leadership’s Gordon Patterson. “It is about having clarity about what matters to you and making sure you are taking care of those things consistently.”

People whose lives are out of balance — whose work life has taken too prominent a role — have similar experiences. Some of the warning signs that your life is out of balance include:

  • You have conversations with yourself in which you say “I’ve got to make more time for my significant other.”
  • You hear yourself telling others that you really wish you had time to do certain things you just don’t get done now.
  • Your relationships with your colleagues are less fun, less productive and less easy-going than they used to be. From your point of view, your direct reports should be far more serious about work than they are.
  • You think that your family should appreciate you more than they do. They don’t realize how hard you work for them.
  • You take your perfectionist and “type A” personality for granted and have not really even thought about altering your behavior.
  • You’re good — you can multitask like there’s no tomorrow. People continually marvel at how you can “do it all.” They think you are superhuman.
  • You pause mentally to put on your armor and to psych yourself up each day when you come through the front door of your office.
  • You want to appear interested when your direct reports tell you about their newborn children, but you don’t want them to conclude that their job responsibilities are any less important just because they’ve become parents.

“If any of these descriptions resonate with you, it may be time to reassess what you’re doing, why you are doing it and explore what your balance looks like to you,” says Patterson.

You may find you are feeling more balanced when you:

  • Accept that your needs and expectations have changed over the years and will continue to change.
  • Are able to make a temporary choice to place one aspect of your life ahead of another, knowing that other things will be tended to in time and you ensure that “temporary” does not become permanent neglect of other important things.
  • Embrace the presence of creative tension in your life. Balance does not mean easy or perfect.
  • Stop blaming your struggles with balance on other people, organizations and institutions.
  • Choose how to use your resources — what to do with your time, energy and passion.

Less Can Be More

Don’t assume that putting in fewer hours on the job will cause your work to suffer. In fact, time and energy spent off-the-job can enhance your productivity and your capacity to deal with work challenges. Shifting the mix of work and non-work hours can teach you:

Strength in vulnerability. Recognize that you can’t do everything and learn to ask for help. Leaders who successfully balance competing demands in all aspects of their lives freely admit their vulnerabilities and frequently are admired and respected for doing so. It makes them seem more human and more approachable.

The upside of limits. When facing a tough challenge or a huge to-do list, human nature urges you to push harder and work more hours. While it may seem counterintuitive to stop, ease back or even shift focus, that’s exactly what you may need to do. If you’re working late at the office – fourteen hours a day, day in and day out – you are tricked into thinking that your efficiency is being maximized by your intense work efforts. In fact, leaving early a few nights a week or delegating more may be the better solution. By setting limits, you are better able to distinguish when you really do need to push and when to step back and regroup.

The benefit of recharging. Our capacity to work is not boundless, although we sometimes appear to believe otherwise. Building in enough time to relax and recharge as we work is critical for clear and creative thinking, strong relationships and good health.

Gordon Patterson is a CCL Senior Program Associate.

Content reprinted with permission from  Finding Your Balance, by Joan Gurvis and Gordon Patterson, Copyright © 2004 Center for Creative Leadership

4 Ways to Measure Your Social Wellness

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Social wellness endows us with the ability to be outgoing, confident, friendly and affectionate toward others. The social wellness philosophy encompasses both a concern for the individual as well as all of humanity and the environment we live in.  This “social lens’’ is a different way to approach problems and contribute to your environment and community. It emphasizes the interdependence between us and nature. The socially well person has a network of friends and family he or she can turn to for support, validation and sharing of life experiences. These relationships are based on interdependence (rather than codependence), mutual trust and respect, equity of power and cultural competence.

A social wellness world view adheres to two fundamental truths:
• It is better to contribute to the common welfare of our community than to think only of ourselves.
• It is better to live in harmony with others and our environment than to live in conflict with them.

If you are a person engaged in the process of social wellness, you see the value in living in harmony with your fellow human beings, seeking positive, interdependent relationships with others, and developing healthy behaviors. You are also willing to actively seek out ways to preserve the beauty and balance of nature and the community.

The Path to Social Wellness
The path to social wellness may involve becoming more aware of your importance in society as well as the impact you have on multiple environments. The path may also involve taking an active part in improving our world by encouraging healthier living and initiating better communication with those around you.

Are you engaged in the process of social wellness?
Evaluate your own social wellness with this brief quiz.

1. Do I plan time to be with my family and friends?
2. Do I enjoy the time I spend with others?
3. Are my relationships with others are positive and rewarding?
4. Do I explore diversity by interacting with people of other cultures, backgrounds, and beliefs?

If you answered “No” to any of the questions, it may indicate an area where you need to improve the state of your social wellness.


 

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