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Grace Under Pressure...Rescue Yourself From Stress

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Mon, Dec 29, 2014 @ 04:06 PM

Stress is taking a toll on our lives….
  • In the short term, working over 21 hours continuously is equivalent to being legally drunk. (International Leadership Research Institute, Evan Robinson)
  • Life today is on average 44% more difficult than 30 years ago (IHM)
  • The number of workers calling in sick due to stress tripled from 1996 to 2000 (Journal of Organizational Development)
  • 60-80% of industrial accidents are due to stress (NIOH&S)
  • Depression has doubled with every generation since the 1920s (Cryer)
  • 5 Hours ( Average Amount of time it takes me to write this article)

These facts are not to depress just to inform. Most people don't have a good handle on their stress. They focus on the unpleasant, and usually unexpected, things that happen every day. That's not just stress, its life.

Most people attribute stress to outside sources but it’s actually the way we look at situations that produce stressful reactions. When people distort their perception, this causes a stressful response.

Common ways we look at a situation and distort our perception which produces a stressful reaction:
-Negative Thinking and Self Talk- When every change, scenario or suggestion is skewed to be perceived as negative. (Example- My life would be fine if it weren’t for other people, or this just sucks)

-Over generalizing. When small negative things influence the way we perceive other situations.

-Overanalyzing. When you focus on small negative details you lose site of the bigger picture reality. (Example- My manager said I did a good job on that report but I don’t believe him, he’s just trying to be nice or he wants me to work overtime. Leadership hates me.)

-Self Blame. When you continually feel you are not good enough (Example- Why did I say that? Only a moron would say something like that!) If you are too busy worrying about how to react you miss the spontaneous inspiration of the moment.

-Rigid Exaggeration. When you only think in extremes ( black/ white, yes/ no, always/ never). Example- Leadership never notices the work that I do (even though they often does)

‘‘The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.’’ ( John Milton)

How does chronic stress (caused by the above perceptions) negatively affect your health? It can do so in four ways:

1. It causes long-term wear and tear on your body, reducing its resistance to disease

2. It can directly contribute to illness, from headaches to heart attacks

3. It can aggravate existing illnesses

4. It can lead to unhealthy habits, such as smoking, drinking, overeating, and not getting enough sleep.

The hormones released during stress literally wear down your body.

Self Development Stress management techniques

1) ‘‘Ignorance is bliss.’’

As a public speaker, One of my favorite stress management techniques.

A key source of stress is feeling out of control. However, it’s not about how much control you actually have but how much you think you have. Here ignorance IS Bliss, if you believe you have control over a stressful situation even if you don’t, your right. For example if you were forced to work a bad shift but you did not know it was a bad thing, it might not matter to you one way or the other and you would experience no added stress.

Another example, if all of your colleagues dreaded a visit from corporate office but you didn’t know what that visit meant you might be excited about the visit instead of dreading it. As a professional speaker i would rather not know everyones opinion of me, only the authentic critical comments matter.

2) Think Positive

Catch yourself in any one of the above thought/behavior patterns and THINK POSITIVE. The moment you choose positive thought you instantly release the stress in your body and it balances all of the above thought patterns that distort our perception and cause stress.

Positive thinking is a choice; your brain is wired to think predominantly positive or negative. When you make a conscious effort to think positively you alter your neural pathways and your thinking patterns change (in a positive way). As an inspirational speaker I always take in other inspirational speeches when I can because they are great reminders. You need the reinforcement.

3) Laugh at it

Humor instantly halts your bodies stress response. Humor also helps you reframe a situation to see it as less threatening. When all goes wrong and you have no control anyways, go ahead and laugh, add years to your life- your body will thank you.

You can add up to 20 years to your life by choosing to gain control over your stress response. (in a Seminar from the Stress Management Institute, 2001)

   inspirational Speaker Jody Urquhart
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Tags: stress management, inspirational speaker, inspirational speeches

Do you Manage your Time ... or Does your Time Manage You?

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Mon, Dec 29, 2014 @ 04:04 PM

To Limit Interruptions,You Need A Protocal for Success
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Tags: stress management, leadership qualites that increase success, enhance wellness

Healthy Workplace Seminars- This Company is Causing Burnout

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Mon, Dec 29, 2014 @ 03:26 PM

I was a guest speaker hired to give a motivational speech to an organization to help them enhance wellness.

It was clear the attendees were stressed out, cynical, burnt out and at the end of their ropes. As a guest speaker, I had to fill out a third report to itemize the second report I was required to complete, I began to understand that this company is the root cause of its own burnout. People become cynical when they have to fill out reports to explain mundane things like why they need a bathroom break.

Burnout is often built into the very structure of an organization. Tell tale signs workplace wellness is suffering:

  • Impossible goals
  • Just-plain-stupid policies and procedures that show a lack of trust
  • Lack of clarity in roles
  • Pointless meetings
  • Consistent attempts to take the human element out of the work
  • Lack of inspiration, appreciation and recognition

Changing the dynamics of an organization like this usually requires an entire culture shift, with the biggest shift is toward a new perspective. It starts with giving people the benefit of the doubt, honoring staff wellness, clarifying roles, reducing meaningless rules and paperwork, establishing policies that give leeway for trust, recognizing the human element and appreciating people a lot. Changes like that don't happen overnight and require a strong commitment from leadership.

Restructure to Decrease the Workload
The result of overload are resentment and frustration. If employees are overworkedand the organization wants to focus on wellness and be more healthy and productive, the staff needs to have less work. It’s contrary to popular belief, but less work allows for the time spent on work duties to be more focused, more productive with fewer mistakes. Employees will be happier, healthier and more positive. Stress management tecniques that encourage wellness will become a priority.

People often spend time at work at the expense of their families, even though we can get new jobs and we can’t get new families. One of the best managers I have ever had wrote employees' important “family dates” on her calendar (soccer games, vacations, recitals) and made sure those shifts were covered. The employees who worked late consistently were told to go home. That manager understood that the bottom line is if employees spend too much time at work it puts pressure on family which puts pressure on the employee wellness and lowers productivity . . . and everyone loses. Reflecting on their lives, nobody ever says "I wish I spent more time at work;" instead, we hear "I wish I'd spent more time with family."

At a conference the guest speaker quoted Evan Robinson's article, "Why Crunch Mode Doesn't Work." I looked up the reference:

More than a century of studies show that long-term useful worker output is maximized near a five-day, 40-hour workweek. Productivity drops immediately upon starting overtime and continues to drop until, at approximately eight 60-hour weeks, the total work done is the same as what would have been done in eight 40-hour weeks.

In the short term, working over 21 hours continuously is equivalent to being legally drunk. Longer periods of continuous work drastically reduce wellness and cognitive function and increase the chance of catastrophic error. In both the short-and long-term, reducing sleep hours as little as one hour nightly can result in a severe decrease in cognitive ability, sometimes without workers perceiving the decrease. (Evan Robinson)

Sometimes work can just be restructured to reduce workload. For instance, people who are more focused on results than on policies that require paperwork are more productive.

Clarifying roles and establishing meaningful goals decrease workload and emotional stress related to work. Very often work roles are redundant, inefficient and unorganized. Get to the bottom of it by letting employees - those who actually do the work and understand the flow - restructure their own roles and goals. The result will be leadership, increased wellness and employee ownership.

Appreciate the Human Element
There is nothing worse than being treated like a machine, designed only for function. The more you try to replace the human element with technology and functional outcome, the less human an organization becomes. Our customers, our employees, and our shareholders are all human. When we introduce technology to simplify our work it often requires people to multitask (do several things at the same time), but research shows we can only really focus on one thing at a time. The result is that we don’t do as well with the job and mistakes often occur.

When we focus on technology and quick results, we lose the human connection. It takes time to slow down and connect, build rapport and really establish relationships based on people, not productivity and results.

And in the long run it’s worth the effort.

As an employee in an organization like this, recognize there is only so much you can do. If you are being pushed to the limits and in the throes of burnout that no stress management seminar could fix, your first action should be to take time for yourself, to engage in some deep self-reflection and look for the root causes of the burnout issue. Then, consider action steps to reduce or eliminate the degree of burnout you are experiencing. Also be a wellness advocate and speak to company employees the virtues of stress management.

Workplace Wellness Guest Speaker Jody Urquhart

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Tags: stress management, guest speaker, wellness, leadership, health seminars

4 Behaviour Types Under Stress

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Fri, Jun 29, 2012 @ 02:54 PM

There are 4 distinct behaviours we revert to when under stress. Being aware of your own behaviours are very valuable to manage your stress; instead of letting your stress manage you.

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Tags: stress management, stress management motivational speaker, Behaviour Types Under Stress

Meeting Planner Convention Travel Apps for the IPhone

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Sun, Dec 19, 2010 @ 02:08 PM

In January and february meeting planners and delegates start traveling to conventions.

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Tags: stress management, guest speaker, Meeting Planner Convention, conference speaking

Motivation to Succeed

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Thu, Nov 11, 2010 @ 01:11 PM

Motivation to stay positive is the key to your success. Their are more negative distractions and people than positive so you have to choose your relationships wisely and filter the bad from the good.

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Tags: wellness, motivation, success, stress management, leadership

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